I used to stumble around in the dark. Like so many of the unenlightened I thought Michael McDonald was only good as an object of mockery. Then, one day I realized that my mockery of Michael McDonald was born of a deep appreciation for the man and his music with which I hadn’t come to grips. Now, I bask in the light.
Michael McDonald’s output from the mid 1970’s through the early 1980’s really moves me. Fans of this musical period should be familiar with his hits with the Doobie Brothers. “What a Fool Believes,” and “Takin’ it to the Streets” are obvious examples, and you’ve probably heard his solo jam “I Keep Forgettin’” while you were waiting to have a cavity filled.
For me, however, Mikey McD reveals his true genius as a backing vocalist. You can hear him on a handful of Steely Dan songs from 1975-77, but his dulcet tones also ice the cake of many a tune by such Lite Mix luminaries as Patti LaBelle, Carly Simon, Little Feat, Nicolette Larson and Kenny Loggins, to name but a few.
Michael McDonald is the the soft rock version of Harvey Keitel’s character Winston “The Wolf” Wolfe from “Pulp Fiction.” The year is 1979 and Christopher Cross is working on “Ride Like the Wind.” It’s a good song, but something is missing, something that could make it great. He calls McD. “I’ll be there in ten,” says Michael. Eight minutes later he’s in the studio ready to (softly) rock.
You can count on Michael McDonald. Bottom line.
Ride Like the Wind – Christopher Cross feat. Michael McDonald