Fool's Overture

Album: Even In The Quietest Moments (1977)


  • Running 10:58, this epic track was written by Supertramp's primary songwriters, Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson, and Hodgson sang lead. The song started as a collage of musical ideas that Hodgson came up with, which they put together into a song about the fall of mankind. Says Hodgson: "History recalls how great the fall can be, while everybody's sleeping, the boats put out to sea. It was very much the way I was perceiving life, that people were in denial of the way we were heading and the way the planet was heading."
  • Hodgson has said that when he wrote the song, he could hear all the parts of an orchestra in his head. When he did start playing with orchestras in the '90s, it was a thrill for him to play this song. He has commented that he gets goose bumps each time he plays it in his symphony concerts.
  • On the Even In The Quietest Moments album cover there is a grand piano with sheet music opened above the keyboard. The title on the music is "Fools Overture," but the notes play "The Star Spangled Banner." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Rob - Vancouver, Canada
  • This song incorporates Winston Churchill's famous "We shall fight them on the beaches" speech, made during WWII. The part sampled is, "We shall go on to the end... we shall fight on the seas and oceans... we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be... we shall never surrender."
  • Part of the song was used as the theme music for the Canadian news show W5 (who, when, what, where, why) in the '70s and '80s. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Sarah - Canada, for above 2

Comments: 21

  • Sven from Rusa ItalyOne of my favorite songs, and I was lucky enough to hear it and see it live in a concert in Hamburg, Germany (Open Air) in 1982. The closing scenes of the song with the bombing, Hitler, and Churchill's words still resonates in my memories. It was a time when the German youth were still dealing with the aftermath of the war and being considered the losers. After many years though, I found a different meaning in the song. It was not so much about 'just' Churchill and fighting the Germans (or that matter the Royal Family), it was more about the general futility of war, politics, and power structures.

    I worry that those who see this as a great historical bravo for Churchill might miss the message, or even be what this song is about. History is written by the winners, one needs to remember that Churchill went to the USA before the Blitz started, and asked the US Congress (in a very passionate speech) to act outside the Monroe doctrine. The USA congress listened and provided a financial backing to get the British war-effort going. If I am not mistaken, Great Britain had to pay back the loan, which was concluded by Tony Blair in the early 2000s. War was always on the cards for Great Britain and the USA, but internal structures, such as the Royal Family in GB or industrial machinery in USA (i.e. Ford and other industrialists provided Hitler with vast number of products - including vehicles, trucks, machines etc.) prevented an open acknowledgement of support. Pearl Harbor changed this, and now it was possible to fully enter the war, with the added bonus to prevent communism (Hitler was already not able to reach Moscow and the Soviets would eventually be coming to Europe) from coming to USA and GB (hence the support of the industry to enter the war).
  • Theo from Uddevalla Sweden Hi! It just dawned upon that the melody in the beginning of Fools Overture has a striking resemblance with Gustav Holsts movement "Venus" (The Peacebringer) from The Planets. This can't possibly be a coincidence? Tell me if I'm wrong! If they decided to "borrow" the theme from Holst, then it's a ingenious move!! I've heard both pieces of music so many years but it hasn't really occured to be until just now... A small - but yet - a mindblowing experience.
  • Ian from EdinburghA section of the instrumental part of the song was used by Channel 4 as the theme for their coverage of The Masters golf in the mid 80s
  • Mary Anne from TexasI totally and completely agree with Allan from Canada. The song is ALL Winston Churshill. It fits well with Churchill's documented history - beginning with his reputation at the start of WW2 due to his experience in the Boer War and the Great War. This song is RICH with layers of meaning. A big THANK YOU to Winnie.

    During the first 2 to 3 minutes of Fool's Overture, we hear an excerpt of Churchill's famous speech to Parliament in May 1940: "We shall go on to the end...we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender...."

    By September 1940, Britons began sustaining something they call "The Blitz," which consisted of nightly bombing raids that occurred for 8 long months. Britons were keeping their children off of undetonated bombs buried in the streets near their houses after a raid. Some had nervous breakdowns. There were severe food shortages. There was in-fighting among the British leadership and there was the Fifth Column who supported Hitler. Churchill very bravely called for a vote of confidence in Parliament in the middle of the Blitz to see exactly how much support he might have for the hard decisions he was going to have to make ahead. Churchill lived on about 3 hours of sleep a day strategizing on how to win the war. He "took the sky" with the RAF after many battleships were sunk. "The island was sinking" in bombing raids, so a ship full of British children - many of them sent without their parents - to try to save them in case Britain fell - was headed for Canada, but it, too, was sunk by a German bomb and never arrived. No survivors.

    The US gave Britain a supportive but lackluster response during the 8 month Blitz and only got involved in the war in December 1941 because Pearl Harbor was bombed - which was 3 months after the Blitz bombings stopped. The US could not have won that war without Great Britain's resolve guided by Churchill's leadership.

    I think that the explosion movement of the Fool's Overture represents the chaos of a bombing raid. The search lights rotating through the air and the audience while this movement played are the searchlights used to find planes flying overhead in the dark during a raid (searchlights were used before radar was invented). The flames in the background on the stage was the aftermatch of such a raid. I often wonder what took the US so long to get involved - and I understood why John Helliwell sometimes played the Star Spangled Banner on his saxophone in the middle of the explosion movement of Fool's Overture. Churchill tried many times to get the US involved earlier as he watched his people suffer.

    I was a young American airman stationed on an RAF base when Fool's Overture was a hit and met many people who lived through the Blitz, which made this song so much more poignant for me - and still does today. I heard many of their stories....

    As Churchill once said, "One always measures friendships by how they show up in bad weather." We really do need to take better care of our allies....
  • Chip from TexasI agree with Allan. All Churchill. Thought this from the moment I heard the song. One of my favorites of all time.
  • Robert P. from White Rock, CanadaI've listened to this song, and album, since its initial release.
    I agree with Allen from Canada for the most part, except that I always thought the man 'Called a Fool' was Neville Chamberlain, mostly for his foreign policy of appeasement. After Hitler invaded Poland, he was mostly blamed for NOT preparing Britain for war, and was subsequently replaced by Churchill. The rest of course, is history...
  • Allan from CanadaI think it's all Churchill. "Called the man a fool:" he was a "hero" in the Boer War (escaping capture), First Lord of the Admiralty in WW1, but in the inter-war years he was relegated to the back benches, basically with no influence. Why was he a fool? His was the lone voice warning about Germany's rearmement and encouraging Britain to build up arms, but was derided as a belligerent warmonger, an out-of-date old soldier looking for the action of an older time.

    "Boats put out to sea" - Dunkirk? (catch the movie); "take to the skies" - Battle of Britain? "Up until the day he died" - despite his war service he was still thought of as a bit of a dinosaur, a throwback to a time gone by. So where has that spirit gone? Everyone's looking out for themselves; "live it up, let's go crazy." A series of unremarkable Prime Ministers (did Roger foresee the free-for-all Thatcher years?!), we need someone with backbone.

    I have played this album so many times, working all-nighters, and have had years to mull it over. Am I reading too much into this?
  • Thierry from FranceI don't know if anyone ever noticed that the theme played at 1:00 in the video above was taken from Gustav Holst's Planets, and more precisely Venus, the Bringer of Peace ( a very appropriate use for this song) at 2:21 in this video : . Sorry if this has already been said. Roger is not only talented but has a real great knowledge of any kind of music.
  • Joe from Toronto, OnNeo, you do realize that Neville Chamberlain was a conservative. And FDR was a liberal. You can't define everything with broad stroke labels. Or live your life in paranoia. I doubt that is what this song is about.
  • Neo from Waterville, MnWhether this song was some attempt to paint Neville (the cowardly lion) Chamberlain as some sort of positive figure or not, I cannot say. What I will say is that Winston Churchill was a God send and savior to the western world, for if he had not wakened the Chamberlain's of the time, evil would not have been defeated.
    That same evil exists and grows yet today and it seeks the same end as Hitler did power and annihilation of the Jewish people. Liberals need to awaken from their slumber, nobody likes war, but evil exists and if not confronted, 2/3 of the world population will be victims. I chose Winston Churchill.....and that's who I think of when I hear this song.
  • Tom from Ottawa, OnI just wanted to add that the song was not meant to paint Chamerlain as fool, but to honor his memory. A noble man with noble intentions, he it was just in the wrong place and time in history
  • Tom from Ottawa, OnThe song is about Neville Chamberlain, who was derided as a fool for trying to appease the Nazi's during to lead up to WWII. Camberlain resigned after the fall of France and the Battle of Britain was about to begin. Churchill took over as Prime Minister. Chamberlain was dead within a few months from cancer
  • Roy from Milton, OnI think it's fairly obvious it's about Winston Churchill. In addition to his famous speech, a lot of the lyrics refer to the WWII struggle in England. "The island's sinking, let's take to the sky..." refers to London being heavily bombed and Churchill's fight using the RAF (which he was criticized for).
  • E.j. from Corona, CaI love Fool's Overture. I think the song is about Jesus Christ. Roger Hodgson is still touring around the world. I saw him recently here in California. He still can sing. He plays with a guy named Aaron McDonald who is an outstanding musician.
  • Steve from Ballwin, MoI always associated it with Jesus Christ as the Fool. "Called the man a fool, stripped him of his pride, everyone was laughing until the day he died. Though the wound went deep. Still he's calling us out of our sleep. We're not alone. He waits in silence to lead us all home..."
  • Drdos from St Louis, MoThis song is about when you have had enough of this world and you ride the whipering wind to the dream world within each of us. You must blow up the world of what is precieved to be self reality to see true reality. Most of the people in the world are asleep and few of us see our island sinking and if you do you may take to the sky within. It will only happen in quietest of moments. Remember that you silly fool for you didn't live that golden rule for once your through with this world there is another waiting there for those that want to see their souls again.

    Zen Power Dreamer
  • S.d. from Denver, CoJimbo, I can't say for certain, but I've always been convinced it's a metaphor the foolishness of war.
  • Donna from Boston, FlOne of the best! Brings back memories of days gone by. The 1970's had some really talented musical compositions. Supertramp is highly qualified as one of the greats!
  • Michael from Okla. City, OkAwesome song by Rodger Hojdson on acoustic guitar & vocals. Michael, OKC, OK, 4-24-08.
  • Jimbo from Sequim, WaTo whom do they refer to in the song? Is it an actual person? I've heard Einstein, Billy Mitchell, etc. suggested. Or is it some sort of metaphorical person? Help!
  • Rob from Vancouver, Canada'Crime of the Century' and 'Even in the Quietest Moments' were both big sellers in Canada. They didn't dent the American market until 'Breakfast in America'. Great Band. Put on a phenomenal live performance at Empire Stadium aroung '80 or '81.
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