“There are certain words that Randy Meisner can sing great and one of them is ‘fool.’ You know right away that it’s him when he sings a word like that.”
-John Boylan, Walrus Magazine, February 12, 1979
“Certain Kind Of Fool” was a song co-written by Randy Meisner for the Eagles’ second studio album, the outlaw-themed Desperado. The idea for the album originated with Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Jackson Browne and J.D. Souther, who were inspired by stories they’d read about the Doolin-Dalton Gang. Desperado was recorded in 1973 at Island Studios in London with producer, Glyn Johns.
Although Henley and Frey were the co-writers of “Certain Kind Of Fool,” it was Randy’s idea to include a song that was a play on words:1
Glenn Frey: “We got to doing this outlaw album and we had eight songs finished and we needed two more. The idea Randy came up with was how the guy became an outlaw or how he became a guitar player.” (BBC In Concert, March 20th, 1973)
Randy recalled that he’d started “Certain Kind Of Fool,” but Don and Glenn helped finish it:
Randy: I had the beginning of it but not the body of the song. So in London they helped me finish it and it turned out real good. It fit with what they were portraying in the theme.” (Ken Sharp interview, 2006)
Sheet music and photo from the Desperado Songbook, published in 1973:
Desperado was released in April 1973. “Certain Kind Of Fool” opened side two. Randy’s second co-writing credit, “Saturday Night,” was also on side two.
Listen to the album version of “Certain Kind Of Fool”:
The American single for “Outlaw Man,” released in August 1973, featured “Certain Kind Of Fool” as the B-side:
Only in the Netherlands was the track released as a single. “Certain Kind Of Fool” spent six weeks on the Dutch charts, peaking at #14. (DutchCharts)
Below: the picture sleeve for the Dutch issue of “Certain Kind Of Fool.”
(Until 1978, only Asylum’s European-issued singles included a picture sleeve.)
The Dutch critics loved Randy, so it’s no surprise that “Certain Kind Of Fool was released as a single in the Netherlands. They loved the song and they loved his performances of it when the Eagles toured there in 1973. One of those critics was Gertjen Van Ommen, the pop critic for the Dutch paper, De Tijd.
On March 10th, 1973, Ommen saw the Eagles perform at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. He felt Randy’s performance of “It Wasn’t For The Money” (aka “Certain Kind Of Fool”) was the pièce de résistance’ of the evening:
“In ‘How Long,’ a solid Poco-style song, they took the aptitude test in close harmony [but] the subsequent song was, as far as I was concerned, their ‘pièce de résistance’: ‘It Wasn’t For The Money,’ with Randy in the vocal lead. What a chillingly beautiful lament that boy can make. Not tremulous, but a sound that would elicit sympathy even from a regiment of mercenaries.” (De Tijd, March 12, 1973. Translated).
In his review of the Desperado album a couple of months later, Ommen was still “blown away” by the song:
“Randy’s languishing voice in ‘Certain Kind Of Fool’ makes that song insanely poignant. I’m quite blown away by it, especially since it came across live so fantastically as well.” (De Tijd, June 30, 1973. Translated)
Randy belts out “Certain Kind Of Fool” in Amsterdam, March 10th, 1973
“Certain Kind Of Fool” would become a staple at Eagles concerts throughout 1973, then it seemingly disappeared from setlists. Randy never performed it during his solo career or afterwards. Perhaps he felt that “Certain Kind Of Fool,” with its outlaw theme, only fit within the context of the Desperado album. When it was performed live, it usually preceded “Outlaw Man,” just as it does on Desperado. The History Of The Eagles documentary reintroduced (or perhaps introduced) “Certain Kind Of Fool” to audiences when it showed a clip of Randy performing it on BBC In Concert on March 20th, 1973. Hopefully this post will help introduce yet another fan to this Randy Meisner deep track.
I’ll close with my favorite live performance of “Certain Kind Of Fool,” which was filmed on March 9th, 1973 (a day after Randy’s 27th birthday) at Popgala ’73 in Voorburg, Netherlands. This was the first time the song was ever performed live.
1Randy co-wrote another song with a play on words: “Too Many Hands” for the Eagles fourth album, One Of These Nights, released in 1975)
My pleasure, Mark!
Another virtuoso performance by Randy! Love the Desperado album and watching footage of Popgala ’73! “Certain Kind of Fool” is a Classic (along with his other hits). His career has been Such a Gift for us!! Thanks for putting this together.
You’re welcome! The Popgala concert is a favorite of mine. Randy is the coolest one on stage.