(Above: Even the album title is decent.)
I suppose now is as good a time as any for a confession.
There are some groups that, try as I have, I just can’t get into. Groups that, as a fan of music from a particular period, I am suppose to embrace. We all have a few of these. I’m not talking about bands for which there’s outright contempt (I’m thinking of the Spin Doctors here), but bands that I just don’t quite feel the same reaction as the masses do.
For me, one such band is the Doobie Brothers. I’ve never quite gotten the appeal of them. I can’t begin to estimate how many times I’ve been paid to play “China Grove” on the radio, and – here’s the kicker – I’ve never once had a listener ask me to play it, either. (Maybe we are playing it just the right amount?) In fact, if I look down the list of their charted hits, there’s a mostly common thread: Of the sixteen songs that the Doobies put into the Top 40, I can do without hearing each and every one of them – except one – ever again.
Part of the reason, I think, is that the Doobie Brothers are really two bands: the pre-Michael McDonald version and the post. The biggest hits, by and large, are the ones that feature McDonald’s adenoids front and center. (There’s another outlier in that “The Doctor” made #9 in 1989, and I think even staunch fans of the band don’t want to acknowledge that one.) “Minute by Minute” struck me as a song that never really ever got started, and most other McDonald vocals get hard to tell apart. On the pre-McDonald side, you’ve got “Black Water,” which I wouldn’t get out of my chair to turn off, but I’d never seek out. “Take Me In Your Arms” is a Kim Weston song, and you can’t convince me otherwise. I just don’t have a whole lot of interest in going up and down this list.
That is, until we get to “Another Park Another Sunday.” A #32 single from What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits, it’s a damned beautiful record. I’ve only been able to play it on two stations: occasionally on WYSY, the short-lived and over-consulted all 70’s station that aired in Chicago in the 1990s, and WERV in the Chicago suburbs in the early 2000s, where I had a habit of slipping in songs that were supposed to be rejected because other stations did not play them. (I once had a conversation there that went something like this: Them: “That song on the air – it’s not being reported by stations online.” Me: “Well, they didn’t ask us, or it would be there.”) Most other places, if I went to throw the song in, I’d get odd looks, and asked why we weren’t just playing “China Grove” instead.
It’s that sort of record that, well, I can’t quite explain: it’s just got – something. That something is enough to make me overlook a whole catalog of music I don’t care for to find one record I’d put on a loop. I’m sure that if I went through my library I’d find more examples of this sort of phenomenon, but I don’t know if I’d find a song this good as the example.
See if it makes your personal playlist. You can hear “Another Park Another Sunday” by clicking here.