Song of the Day #2,884: ‘What a Fool Believes’ – The Doobie Brothers

doobie_brothersI’ve always been very much against greatest hits collections, put off by the way they cast aside deep tracks just as worthy of attention. I’d rather own the two or three best albums by a given artist than a single collection of their “best” singles.

But I’ve softened on that stance over the years as the digital era made it increasingly easy to buy exactly the songs I want, from artists whose full-length albums might not be the best way to appreciate their work.

Elvis Presley is probably the best example. The 2002 compilation of his 30 #1 hits is the perfect way to enjoy Presley’s music without buying the many albums across which those singles were scattered.

In the past couple of years, I’ve bought a couple of greatest hits collections as a way to flesh out my music library with the work of artists I’ve missed out on. In 2014, I bought a Creedence Clearwater Revival hits collection and haven’t regretted it for a minute. I might still pick up Cosmo’s Factory one of these days, but in the meantime I finally own about a dozen classic songs I was missing.

Just last week I made the same exception for The Doobie Brothers. I’ve long loved the song ‘What a Fool Believes,’ but really didn’t know anything else about the band. I finally decided to download the single but first checked out the rest of their catalog.

Here’s where a rather sizable hole in my popular music knowledge was exposed. I had no idea that The Doobie Brothers were behind such classic hits as ‘Listen to the Music,’ ‘Jesus is Just Alright,’ ‘Long Train Running,’ ‘China Grove’ or ‘Black Water.’ I know those songs well — doesn’t everybody? — but I couldn’t have named the performer.

I discovered that The Doobie Brothers were a California hippie rock band that morphed into more a jazz-soul outfit when Michael McDonald took over the reins from Tom Johnston in the mid 70s. I bought a “Very Best of” collection that spans multiple decades and genres over 30+ tracks.

My verdict after one listen? Great stuff all the way through. I prefer the Tom Johnston years, but this song remains my favorite.

He came from somewhere back in her long ago
The sentimental fool don’t see
Tryin’ hard to recreate
What had yet to be created once in her life

She musters a smile for his nostalgic tale
Never coming near what he wanted to say
Only to realize
It never really was

She had a place in his life
He never made her think twice
As he rises to her apology
Anybody else would surely know
He’s watching her go

But what a fool believes … he sees
No wise man has the power to reason away
What seems … to be
Is always better than nothing
And nothing at all keeps sending him …

Somewhere back in her long ago
Where he can still believe there’s a place in her life
Someday, somewhere, she will return

She had a place in his life
He never made her think twice
As he rises to her apology
Anybody else would surely know
He’s watching her go

But what a fool believes … he sees
No wise man has the power to reason away
What seems … to be
Is always better than nothing
There’s nothing at all
What seems … to be
Is always better than nothing
There’s nothing at all
But what a fool believes he sees …
No wise man has the power to reason away
What seems … to be
Is always better than nothing

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One thought on “Song of the Day #2,884: ‘What a Fool Believes’ – The Doobie Brothers

  1. Dana says:

    For someone like Elvis, and many artists from the 50’s through 70’s, particularly those working through Motown and Hitsville,it was really far more about the single than the album, as this was the way the music industry pushed product. By the 80’s, artists were by and large more focused on the album experience. Now, with digital music, the industry has returned to the focus on singles over albums, much to the lament of older artists and older fans (including me).

    Of course, long before digital downloads, the industry served up greatest hits records for the casual fan of an artist, often in multiple volumes around the holidays. Nowadays, though, you no longer have to let the industry determine what the “greatest” songs are. You can create your own custom-made hits collection one digital download at a time. Sometimes, however, the greatest hits record does the trick, as it appears to have done for you with CCR and the Doobie Brothers.

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