Kenny Loggins co-wrote "What a Fool Believes" with Doobie Brothers lead singer Michael McDonald. Loggins put his version on his album Nightwatch, which was released in July 1978, five months before The Doobies included it on their Minute by Minute album. Loggins' version was never released as a single, but The Doobie Brothers took it to #1 in the US in April 1979.
Michael McDonald's concept for the lyric was a scenario where two people meet in a restaurant - two people who had a passionate relationship long ago. To the man, the affair was the best thing in his life; to the woman, it was fun, but it was time to move on. In the conversation, the man makes a complete fool of himself. When the woman excuses herself to leave, he doesn't get the message, believing he still has a shot and that their affair was much more meaningful than it actually was. Love makes a man a fool, and even a wise one can't reason it away.
Producer Ted Templeman described this as a "floppy record" and wanted a "floppy feel" for the percussion, so he played drums alongside drummer Keith Knudson "to get the feeling right." They had been recording the song for five or six straight days when he made this decision.
This was the band's second US #1, after "Black Water
." The Doobie Brothers took on a different sound when they lost lead singer Tom Johnston due to illness in the mid-'70s. Instead of the album rock they were known for, they had more of a soft rock sound with Michael McDonald as lead singer.
Bertrand - Paris, France
Michael McDonald wrote the original version of this song. He presented a fragment of it to Templeman, who encouraged him to continue working on it. Kenny Loggins came in when McDonald got stuck on the bridge of the song. Bassist Tiran Porter had suggested Loggins to McDonald because the two were good friends.
This won Grammys for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. The album won a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus. These were the only Grammys the band ever won.
While he was waiting for Loggins to arrive at his home, McDonald played some of the songs that were "in progress" and asked his sister Maureen which she thought was best. As Loggins was getting out of his car, he heard McDonald playing a fragment of this. According to Loggins, he heard about three-quarters of the verse's melody (no lyrics), but McDonald stopped at the bridge. Loggins' mind continued without a break... and the song's bridge was born. Then Loggins knocked on the door, introduced himself to McDonald, and demonstrated the bridge that he devised before the two of them could sit down. The lyrics were finished over the telephone the next day.
Minute by Minute was the only #1 album the band ever had. It went to #1 in the US but didn't even chart in the UK.
The Doobies used an analog synthesizer called a Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 on this song.
This was the 500th #1 song of the rock era (taken from when "Rock Around The Clock
" by Bill Haley topped the US singles chart in 1955).