An old blues number that I first heard on a Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee album.
I'm 99% sure it's an old Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee song, chosen because I play harmonica not dissimilarly to Sonny Terry. I don't think the words would have been intentionally changed - maybe because I didn't know them.
It was a little bit out of the scope of our main thrust. It really represented us on stage in the early days, doing bluesy things, which was a lot of fun. From the beginning we knew fairly clearly what our direction was, although it was argued about all the time. We always went for the maximum colour and experiment and scope and breadth, and things like See What A Fool didn't really belong in that. In fact, it was an adaptation of an existing blues standard - you're going to ask me which one, and I don't know! I heard it on a TV broadcast. It was one of those things where… I remember hearing how The Beatles heard Apache on the radio and wanted to do a version of it, but they weren't able to remember it properly so they put together an instrumental which became Cry for A Shadow, it was the same sort of thing. I heard this song once on a TV programme and remembered about a third of it and put together something which, in my mind, is the same thing. And I don't know how much accurately I did it because I still haven't found the original! It's funny. We were actually looking a few weeks ago to see if we could discover what the song was and who the original author was. I'd love to find out, because I'd like to pay the guy!
Ever since we used to play See What A Fool I've Been in the early days of Queen, I knew that I had borrowed the idea for the song from a performance I had seen on TV - of a visiting Blues company, which I remembered included Big Bill Broonzy, and Muddy Waters, Matt Murphy, and others. I only heard the song once, and there were no recorders to hand in those days (at least not where I lived !) What I remembered was just a chord sequence and a couple of lines - I worked it up into a song, actually for Smile before Queen, and it was a way for me to pursue an idea of using huge dynamics in a bluesy song to make it cut across heavy… if you know what I mean … it was one of the ingredients of the Dreams of Queen in the early days .... When it came around to doing the label for the song (we used a very rough take of it for an early B-side) I could only put for the composer credit: ‘Traditional - arr. May' because I didn't know who had done the song which had inspired me. I always said I would eventually find out who the missing author was and credit him. Well, it was much harder than I had thought. I looked in all the places I could think of, and many people have tried to find the song since then, but without success. I was beginning to think I dreamed the whole thing. We're talking about 30 years ago or more.