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What A Fool Believesapalooza

Hurrah, it’s my inaugural mp3 post!  Oh, what to post for you?  What to post…

Seriously, what did you think I was going to post?  (You’re welcome, Ryan.)

I don’t need to get into details as I did on my previous blog back in October.  You can read that post if you’d like.  But again, “What A Fool Believes” is the greatest song ever written.

I have always wondered, in fact, why there haven’t been more blog posts dedicated to this magnificent song, in all its glory.  Seems like it’s just me and Stereogum.  Either way, here are seven " ((1Believe it or not, I have at least three more versions of this song: the Kenny/Michael duet mentioned elsewhere in this post (as stated, no balls), a live bootleg version from ’91 by George Michael (brings nothing to the table), and a version from Australian Idol 2 (ditto).  I am still looking for versions by Peter Cox (former lead singer of Go West), and Shane Richie.  If you find the Claressa Monteiro version, you can keep it.  I heard a 30 second sample on one of the European iTunes stores and that was enough.))" different versions of "What A Fool Believes," in the order that I dig ’em.  This post is dedicated to my wife, who now hates this song more than anything else in the entire world.

The Doobie Brothers – What A Fool Believes

From Minute By Minute  Amazon iTunes

Can’t beat the original. 

I saw an interview with Michael McDonald recently where he mentioned he’d been fooling around with the riff for ages, without a song to attach it to.  Ted Templeman, who was producing the Doobies at the time, kept encouraging McDonald to use it somewhere, often exclaiiming "that’s a hit!"  Now, I don’t know much about Ted Templeman.  But I do believe that Ted Templeman is a frickin’ genius.


Kenny Loggins – What A Fool Believes (Live)

From Alive  Amazon iTunes

I don’t know if you can necessarily call this a cover, considering that Kenny Loggins co-wrote the song.  But after the original, this is my favorite version: it retains some of the original’s flavor, but gives it a completely different spin by adding horns, a few chord changes, and some nice ad-libs.  BTW, I saw Kenny Loggins in concert recently, and while he did play all of his greatest hits, he did not play this one.  I hate you, Kenny.

NOTE: There is also a Loggins/Mcdonald duet version of this song from Kenny Loggins’ Outside: From the Redwoods album.  I did not include it here and I do not recommend listening to it, as it has been stripped of its balls.


Self – What A Fool Believes

From Gizmodgery (available on expensive import at Amazon)

Scott at Stereogum coined this his favorite cover song of all time.  I don’t think it’s my favorite, but it’s up there.  This song, like all the others on Gizmodgery, is performed entirely on toy instruments.


Aretha Franklin – What A Fool Believes

From Aretha Franklin Greatest Hits Amazon

As always, Aretha takes a song and makes it her own.  It’s not my favorite version, but what was I going to do – NOT put Aretha on here?  Plus, it has that double-clap thing.  Clap clap!


The M People – What A Fool Believes

From Best of M People Amazon

I’m lukewarm on this version.  But it’s a dance version, so dance up if you’re into that sort of thing.  Dancing.


Matt Bianco – What A Fool Believes

From Samba In Your Casa (currently unavailable)

Great opening.  The rest of the song is fairly typical, but those horns are a welcome addition.


The Doobie Brothers – What A Fool Believes (live)

From Rockin’ Down The Highway: The Wildlife Concert Amazon

This is a fairly tame version of the song – the kind that most bands do when they reunite for a nostalgia tour – but you gotta give Mike McD props for hitting most of those notes almost 20 years later.  Didn’t even change the key like some people we know.

There you have it: seven different versions of one of the biggest (and best) earworms of all time.  Enjoy.

  • you are truly a sick individual

  • Great.
    Now I’ll be hearing that song in my head for the rest of the day, through work, through, dinner, through the Man or Astroman? show I’m to go to tonight. 
    I do have to say one thing pertaining to your claim that Michael McDonald is the greatest white soul singer…ever heard of a guy named Eddie Hinton?

  • It’s a great, great song — I put it in my top fifty songs of all time in a post a while back.  It’s probably not received the attention it deserves because the Doobie Brothers are Not Cool and never were.  But the lyrics are great, the melody is unique, and the vocal is one of the best ever.  Man, Michael McDonald is amazing.  I tried to sing "What a Fool Believes" in a piano bar, and it had more range than I had anticipated; his thick voice disguises how high he goes.The only other version I know is Self’s, which is neat.

  • I’ve heard Peter Cox’s version of "Fool," and the remix of Peter Cox’s version of "Fool." Together, they are possibly the only two songs whose shittiness have actually made me angry. Peter Cox is the Death Star of blue-eyed soul.

  • Mo!

    Nice. Didn’t listen to one of them, but nice.Congrats on the Sterogum nod.

  • teh lawn

    I’m still looking for the live version of this song Mike McDonald did on the Later with Jools Holland show, sometime around 2001 or so..

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  • 2fs

    If you like that Self version, there are metric assloads of Self tracks available for download here. I’m guessing if you dig around that site, you might be able to find a way to get albums like Gizmodgery for less than import prices (I don’t know that for a fact; I’m just guessing).

  • Nice post baby. Hopefully MMD won’t sick his ninja lawyer deathsquad on you. Also, I am stealing "metric assloads"  from 2fs and using it as often as possible.

  • Because Jefito is wise, I followed his advice and linked you on my site. Welcome to the blogaramaspherezoid – err, welcome!

  • JJ

    Nice post guy.  Also, I’d like to thank you for formating your post like a normal person, ie. Artist – Track Title.mp3.  So many music blogs don’t do this and they suck cock by choice because of it.  So…thanks.  Good start, looking forward to more, but no pressure…really.     

  • Ekkostar

    *snerk!* I didn’t know that song was so popular.

  • tim

    nice debut. oddly, i don’t disagree.

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  • Elaine

    Hi!  I’m new here.  Great first two posts.  The song is great, no matter who does it.  Yes, even Aretha.And lol@ sucks-cock-by-choice.  Swejin & Woo forever.

  • Dan

    Kenny Loggins Alive is one of my favorite albums from the late 70’s (1980). It is sadly out of print.

  • SD

    Usually not a strong advocate such things, let me tell you all, there is no greater pleasure than that of an incoming phone call to your cell phone blaring the ringtone version of “What a Fool Believes”. I would’ve sent it jasonhare.com but i couldn’t find an email link. Anyways, nice debut!

  • Thanks!  I agree with you wholeheartedly.  My cell phone can actually play snippets of mp3 files, so I get to use the real thing (or, y’know, 6 other versions).  There are a million midi versions out there if anybody’s looking to convert one to a ringtone.

  • RetUSMCGunny

    I’m hoping this is a joke…that song doesn’t rate this kind of recognition.  Besides, anyone with taste knows that the best song ever written is "How Soon is Now" by The Smiths

  • Neil

    Take a listen to Robbie Dupree’s "Steal Away" ….Apparently he liked the riff too!

  • You’re right on the money, Neil, and good timing, too: I was listening to "Steal Away" last night, and will be posting about that in the next week or so.

  • dave

    eddie hinton? what an utterly obscure, yet equally irrelevant reference. van morrison is the greatest white soul singer ever. here’s my imitation of mo!: nice, nice blog. i shut my eyes the entire time i read your blog, but i linked here from stereogum, and i’m a condescending douchebag, so nice job on the blog. i’ve never heard of the doobie brothers because i’m so cool my brain has  a filter on it that doesn’t allow me to enjoy anything cheesy, or ironic, or slightly nostalgic. which means i can only listen to fall out boy and panic @ the disco.

  • SD

    Hate to admit it, and not that I listen to them (cough), but Darryl Hall of Hall & Oates has to rank right up there in the top white soul singers as well…

  • rachie

    as i kid i LOVED this song, and apparently (i don’t remember this part) was devastated when my record of it became too scratched to play. my mom ended up buying me a cassette of it. even at age 3 or 4 i had extremely good taste in music, it seems.
    also, i laughed right out loud at "suck cock by choice"!! ^5, JJ.

  • Jenni

    I love Michael McDonald, and that is definately a great song!  Just saw him at Jones Beach…I don’t know why but he was the Opening act for Steely Dan?  How that happened I’m not sure..Anyway he was amazing..and that song is maybe ONE of the greatest, but there are sooooo many more amazing songs and songwriters! Just to  name a few..Stevie Nicks ( a lot), Billy Joel (a shitload), Elton John (an assload), Dan Fogelberg (Same auld lang syne, Longer, Leader of the band), Hall & Oats (Sara), Jim Croce (Operator), John Denver (all of them), Christopher Cross (Sailing), and dare we forget the BEST Songwriters/Bands/Music of all time…..Beatles, Stones, and my personal favorite…U2!!!!  Now, I know there are a ton more….but Dave….are u seriously comparing these new upstart bands like fall out boy and panic at the disco to the Doobies etc?  Yes, they are good bands with maybe 2 or 3 good songs between them, and they are starting to make a small dent in the music bus…..but come on!  Let me see, would I rather listen to "Dance, Dance" or "One"…..hmmm?  Not even remotely in the same league!  You need to expand your music library and listen to something that "dropped" b4 2006! ……Oh, Neil, I cannot believe that I never realized the similar riff in Steal Away…that is Sick!  and speaking of white soul singers….does anyone think Taylor Hicks should have won American Idol (he was compared to Michael McDonald a lot!)

  • bradsbythe1st

    Are u FUCKING kidding me!!!!!!!! The D. B.’s kinda sucked before the m. macdonald years, & are 1 of the worst bands ever after, so how do you believe this is the best song, you FOOLS!!

  • Marc

    Living under a rock for the past twenty years, I didn’t realize there was anyone else on the planet that shared my love of Michael McDonald’s voice and the absolutely greatest song in the world (for both lyrical and musical content). Oh sure, I like a lot of newer music too, but hey, that one song (original version please) will forever be an island of pure genius.

  • Krëg

    Righteous post for a stellar tune. Didn’t know about the Self cover, but was glad to see it too (and props for the toy instruments trivia).

  • larry

    great song  but i still think stairway to heaven is the best ever.

  • Lisa G

    I LOVE THIS SONG!  I AM SO GLAD I FOUND THIS SITE!  I am glad there is someone out there who likes it just as much as I do….my friends look at me weird when i blare it out sing it at a kareoke bar.
     
    :)

  • I have loved Michael McDonald’s talent 4 some time now!! He is great. I had the privlelge of seeing him in Huntsville, Alabama a few years ago. He has a great voice!!!

  • Bill

    I saw the Doobie’s in the 70’s. This isn’t even close to being the best Doobie’s song, yet alone the best song of all time. Listen to the Music, China Grove and Evil Woman, to name 3, are better songs!!!

  • Reneewpoly

    I tried out for junior varsity majorette at my high school by doing a routine to this song.  That was in the spring of 1979.  Every time I here that song it brings back great memories.

  • Gilligan

    That song sucks to high heaven. There’s a million more that could be considered the best of all time.

  • Bradley

    You can see the "true" story of how "What A Fool Believes" came to be on the fantastic show Yacht Rock, Episode 1.

  • AmandaH76

    I have to admit, I’ve never heard the song and I probably wouldn’t recognize the Doobie Brothers if they were singing live in front of me.  That being said, your blog was so eye-catching and unique, that you sucked me into reading all of it.  How about a link so I can hear this song I’ve seen so much of?
    Thanks!

  • PlaywPaint

    This past winter, I was in Vienna, Austria and I could not believe that this song is so popular over there. You hear it in the wine bars, the shops, the U-Bahn Stations (subway) and cafes … it is everywhere. When I came home, I could not get it out of my head. So I guess, I can believe, that it is one of the greatest (or at least most popular) songs ever…  (roll over John Lennon)  The ‘live song’ can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYzZHV13HPE&search=doobie+brothers

  • Croix

    I definitely suck cock by choice
     
    and this song is still a great song

  • M.

    Definitely "Listen to the Music"…is best of all time

  • Suz

    Great site.  Hmm…I used to have a 12" single remix of What a Fool Believes (used to DJ) – I should look for that.  Funny thing is, until recently I forgot that Kenny co-wrote the song – so,  now it makes sense that when I saw Kenny and Michael live – they sang the song together (duh;-)). Thanks for jogging the memory, and I’m going to check out Gizmodgery.

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  • rock S

    always been on of my favorite songs;;;had special meaning for me when it was first relaeased. I saw the first tour Michael McDonald did with the Doobies,and just saw him again recently with Steely Dan. Also had a meet and greet with him—it was cool,he was very cordial and down to earth…..    He also had some songs from the Doobies era that had similiar themes,such as Losing End,and How do the fools survive ?     An incredible talent and voice…..
     

  • Margaret Dykes

    Hands down the best song ever written and NOBODY can sing it like the DOOBIES.
    It should be a criminal offense to even try to copy Michael McDonald’s versiom.
    I remember the night it won best song at the Grammy’s (back in the dark ages–yes I’m THAT old)  I cried. That song speaks to all of us if you are smart enough to listen and reflect upon it. What we wish for in life and what is our reality, and how sad it is to love and not be loved in return.  Most of us have been there. And if you haven’t, you haven’t lived.  Well, if you haven’t–then just listen to the DOOBIES sing What a Fool Believes and maybe you’ll start to get it.

  • Don

    That song freakin’ sucks,  MacDonald ruined the Doobies

  • Rob

    LOVE the site. Love the song. Did you know that the Doobies also did it live on the NO NUKES concert film? it was a little lame.
    For the woman who didn’t understand the pairing of MMD and Steely Dan: MMD sang with Steely Dan too. it’s his voice doing the high harmony on "Peg" and other songs.
     
    Keep up the good work.
     

  • Jeff

    I also have the Peter Cox version, which is nearly as good as the original. Also has the added benefit of being by Peter Cox, lead singer of one of my favorite 80’s bands, Go West. What a Fool Believes is my all time favorite song.

  • Crimson Ghost

    Great post!  Too bad I missed hearing the Matt Bianco version (and the CD is out of print).  It is very popular in Japan due to its prominent use in Nissan commercials.  Rock on!

  • Oh no, they didn’t!14 Cover Songs That Are Better Than the Originals8. Self, "What A Fool Believes"
    As an exercise in songwriting, the Michael McDonald- and Kenny Loggins-penned "What A Fool Believes" is amazing—a pop gem endowed with an expansive melody that flawlessly navigates tons of rhythmic quirks and about a million chords. Unfortunately, The Doobie Brothers’ recording hasn’t aged very well, mired as it is in late-’70s faux-soul maximalism and airwave overexposure. Rescuing it from the bargain bins just in time for the new millennium, however, Self’s Gizmodgery version recasts the ultra-complicated song in the coolest possible way—using children’s toys! Nailing all the essential elements on instruments such as the Little Tikes Xylophone and the Mattel Star Guitar, Self’s resident genius Matt Mahaffey brings the ornate elements together in a leaner, funkier version that’s a terrific tribute and a memorable piss-take.

  • Paul

    I was so fascinated to find this page.  I, too, love the song, but (Jason, I hope you won’t think this is blasphemy), for me, the Holy Grail of music is the 12 in. disco remix of WAFB (yes, by the Doobies, but with a dance beat) that came out at the same time – I guess someone decided to jump on the disco bandwagon, and the song lent itself well to the remix.  I’ve been looking for it for YEARS (THIS fool believes it’s gotta be out there somewhere), so if anyone here knows how to get it, I’d be greatly appreciative!

  • Peter

    About 3 months ago I started looking for covers of WAFB, which eventually led me here and to wikipedia. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_a_Fool_Believes)
    I now know of 12 versions that don’t involve Loggins and/or McDonald.
    My favourite is Anita Baker’s, but I can’t track it down. If anyone knows where and when it was recorded, which album it’s on, etc., please post the information here.
    By-the-way Paul (9Apr07): Matt Bianco did a 12 in. version too: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_a_Fool_Believes_%28Matt_Bianco_12%22_Vinyl%29

  • As a Songwriter and Fan of music, I understand the both the pleasure and the guiltiness of that pleasure. An astonishingly well-written song. Production & Vocals great. Not sure about Greatest Song of all time though. What about the O-Jays’ version of "I only have Eyes for you"?
    The musical progression is sublime. Ted Templeman was the man for the job.Michael McDonald has a distinctive and beautiful voice. Surely he must have gargled a lot!I can’t remember the last time such a well written song had Mainstream success. In fact I’m struggling to remember the last time a well written song had Mainstream success.I wouldn’t have a clue how to play it on guitar – would love to try. Does anyone know ?
    Have never heard any cover versions of it.
    And Yes, as Ryan says, this whole thing is Sick. But what a Joyous illness!!!! Well done Jason!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sorry, that should be the Flaming Os version of "I only have Eyes for You". I was just walking down Victoria St, London when I remembered.

  • Furious

    To say that the Loggins/McDonald version from "Outside: At the Redwoods" album has been stripped of its balls would imply that the original version had some balls to begin with. While it is a Smooth rock classic, I think we can all agree that this song is completely devoid of balls in all forms. (After all, only one with no balls can hit those high notes.)This is in no way a diss to the musicians, but lets not kid ourselves.

  • miz

    i can’t believe you don’t like the kenny + michael duet version.  it’s awesome, especially with the saxophone solo at the end.  man, fucking get a clue.

  • John Paul

    This is one of the best songs ever written, a perfect storm of melody, timing and vocals. Thanks for recognizing its brilliance.
    As for best versions, I nominate this rendition from a MM appearance on the Johnny Carson show in 1985. Many may not have seen it because it’s tacked on the end of a "No Lookin’ Back" performance. http://youtube.com/watch?v=h6EZkT6Zeo4

  • That’s a kick-ass performance!  Thanks!

  • I’ve have always loved this song. I heard the best remake of the song on the radio the other day. Its definitely worth a look.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=E9lM6zFqwDc

    by an Italian group called Neri per Caso.

    **It is very popular here in Italy, and it’s kinda funny because many of my younger friends have never heard the original.

  • Mike

    Agree with all of you, BUT:The best version is from 1979 and from The No Nukes Concert.I only have that one on a VHS video but not on record,but I would like to have it,its absolutely the best version.

  • Jim

    This is still one of my favorite blog posts OF ALL TIME.

    I’m listening to all of these, 4 years later. Thank you for recognizing the genius.

    http://twitter.com/jwithy/status/17584701374

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