December 17, 2009

Open Letter to Michael McDonald

At Westbury Music Fair

Dear Michael McDonald, oh DEAR Michael McDonald,

I don't remember when I first heard your voice, but I know I had "Yah Mo B There" on a K-Tel cassette tape from the early 80s.

I never really remembered your big solo hit "I Keep Forgettin'" until Warren G reminded me of it in his classic tune "Regulate."

But I remember the moment I really fell in love with your smooth vocal stylings, and your heartbreaking  composing: the first time I listened to the Razor & Tie compilation Easy Rock, whose TV commercial led me to not only buy two copies, but to go work for Razor & Tie. Sure, it was more than 20 years after "What a Fool Believes" was originally a hit, but the song's lyrics struck me. I made my friends listen to it while I cried out, "It's SO SAD!"

After that I started finding your voice in whatever other songs I listened to. Christopher Cross, check. Kenny Loggins, check. Steely Dan, check. Robbie Dupree (of "Steal Away" fame), check. Patti LaBelle, check. David Pack told me he co-wrote one of Ambrosia's biggest hits ("You're the Only Woman") with you. I even found you in a post-Africa Toto song ("I'll Be Over You.")

You, sir McDonald, are not only ubiquitous in all pop music that I love, but you are all-powerful in your ability to make me gush about easy rock, the genre you created. Razor & Tie now pays me to talk about you on QVC.

You wrote a cajun Christmas song that does not sound ridiculous. You make "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" sound like you wrote that one too. And you can channel Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder so well, you make housewives across the country squeal in delight.

So please, Michael McDonald, with all the power of your stark white hair and your great trimmed beard, don't deprecate yourself with old jokes, fat jokes, stupid jokes, and dorky jokes. Even in a sweaty white dress shirt with no undershirt (oh, please wear an undershirt), you rock the hell out of a circular rotating stage in Long Island. You give Kenny Rogers more than a run for his money for best easy rock Christmas show ever. People give you a standing ovation at the mere suggestion of the first few keyboard strokes from "What a Fool Believes."

Go on, play your accordion and your tiny guitar and your acoustic guitar. I like to see you stand rather than always hunched over that keyboard.

playing the accordion

And do talk to me, talk to me in that very normal, average-sounding speaking voice of yours that, in comparison, makes your singing voice sound ever so much more luxurious, like a fine velour...Just keep it short and cute, and leave out the complaints about joining the AARP. I didn't mind how old you were in the "Sweet Freedom" music video when I was just 11 years old. Don't remind me of the time that has passed since.


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  1. I love this "Open Letter". Michael McDonald is the best.

  2. I am sure Michael is a great guy but, to me, his voice signalled the end of so many good bands, to the point where, if I heard his voice in a new song, I blocked it out. It's like, if a band was stagnating, they'd toss in McDonald and finish the band off, going out in a chorus of mundane.