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The Story Behind The Song (Fool Me Once)



Subject Matter


"Fool Me Once" began as one thing & ended up as something else.

The first lyrical draft was about spousal abuse, written from the perspective of the abused woman.


Problem was, that type of lyric needed a female singer & I didn't have one.

Since there was no way I could do it myself, I chose the only other available option.

I rewrote the lyric. 

Honestly, I don't like this rewritten version as well, but it did fix my biggest problem.

It allowed for a male vocalist. 

This final version is deliberately vague & no specific cause for the break-up is ever given.

That remains open to interpretation.



Fool me once, shame on you
Fool me twice, shame on me

I’m the one sayin’ goodbye to you

That’s the way it needs to be!


All along I’ve trusted you

Thinking you would never do

Anything to bring me to

…to this loveless maze


Looking out, I plainly see

What it is you’ve done to me

You should know I’ll never be

…willing to forget


Fool Me Once, shame on you

Fool me twice, shame on me

I’m the one sayin’ goodbye to you

That’s the way it needs to be!


I know that you’d like me to

Think of all that we could do

If I were to stay with you,

But it’s just too late!


Repeat Chorus Section Twice

Fool me again…shame on me!

(Copyright 2002 – Tom Hoffman)




Over the years, I've based a number of songs on well-known expressions or familiar phrases. Fool Me Once" is an obvious example.

Not only is it a well-known saying, but the title (hook) gives an instant impression of the subject matter.

In other words, the title lets you know what the song will be about.


Written & arranged back in 2002, it was recorded using a Tascam 788 Digital Deck



The arrangement consists of:

-  Electric guitar rhythm track (Strat)

- Lead guitar track (Strat)

- Acoustic guitar rhythm track (Yamaha)

- Bass guitar track (Peavey)

- Stereo pair of drum tracks (7 & 8)

-  Main vocal track

- 1 premixed background vocal track

Best, Clearest Shot.JPG DSC02341.JPGPeavey Fury - full front (600x800).jpgDSC02249 (900x607).jpg


The background vocals you just heard employ a technique known as "call & response".

Not something I use often, but it seemed an appropriate choice here.


Musical Fundamentals


Since the song was written about a common topic...the break-up of a relationship, I wanted it to be musically different.

Mixolydian mode (flattened 7th) has an unusual feel, so it seemed a good choice. Hence the song is set in E mixolydian.


It's also different structurally. The brief musical intro is immediately followed by a chorus section.

Beginning with a chorus isn't unheard-of. It's simply not the traditional choice.


Structural Breakdown


Musical Introduction


Verse / Verse



Chorus / Chorus

…and the Ending


Far too many writers view endings & intros as minor details, rather than additional opportunities for creative expression.

Fortunately, I am not one of those writers!

...and this particular ending continues to be one of my favorites!


YouTube Video Version (*includes full song) - https://youtu.be/1FRRfLisz34


Tom Hoffman

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