Top 10 Michael McDonald Songs

Michael McDonald Songs

Our Top 10 Michael McDonald Songs article looks at the body of work Michael McDonald has released as a solo artist. This article will not consider any of the songs he recorded as a member of the Doobie Brothers, even if they were composed by Michael McDonald. We just wanted to keep his Doobie Brothers material separate to have enough room to showcase his extraordinary solo career. Since we are defining some of the highlights of Michael McDonald’s solo career, we have included a few of the big-time duets Michael McDonald has been a part of as a songwriter and co-lead vocalist. These were songs that dominated the pop charts.

A superior, distinguished vocal ability has defined Michael McDonald’s career. However, the term vocal ability is far too limiting to express the art of Michael McDonald. Hands down, there has never been another singer from the Classic Rock Era that has sounded like Michael McDonald. His pitch, resonance, and soulfulness are so mesmerizing that they are indescribable in words. Steely Dan’s Donald Fagan once said that when he heard Michael McDonald singing backup on a Steely Dan song, he wondered what he was doing singing lead vocals instead of Michael McDonald.

As a songwriter, he has written material that wraps around his voice perfectly, delivering spirited songs of substance. His solo albums are full of great Michael McDonald songs that have pleased fans of the Doobie Brothers’ Michael McDonald era. The many duets he has performed have been extraordinary because only the best singers in the business would dare share a microphone with the legendary voice of Michael McDonald.

It’s always tough to compose a top 10 list of songs by an artist like Michael McDonald. There are so many great ones that will be missing from this list. However, these lists are designed for two reasons. One is to introduce an artist’s material to those unfamiliar with the artist’s work. The other is to have some fun with all the old-time fans who will argue with us over our choices. That’s what being a fan is all about!

# 10 – Sweet Freedom

We open our top 10 Michael McDonald song lists with a soundtrack song. The excellent track “Sweet Freedom” was released on the soundtrack of Running Scared, which starred the late Gregory Hines and comedian Billy Crystal. The film and soundtrack were released in 1986. The song “Sweet Freedom” would become one of Michael McDonald’s biggest solo hits, peaking at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100.

# 9 – All I Need

Michael McDonald’s song “All I Need” was the opening track from his Blue Obsession album. The album was released in 2000. The song “All I Need” was written by Tommy Simms and Michael McDonald. Tommy Simms played bass in the Bruce Springsteen band that replaced the original E Street band during Springsteen’s Human Touch tour in 1992. Tommy Simms also won a Grammy Award for the song “Change The World,” which he wrote for Eric Clapton in 1997. His pairing with Michael McDonald on the “All I Need” track brought a modern sound to the recording that differed from McDonald’s previous solo albums.

# 8 – Matters Of The Heart

Continuing with our list of the top 10 Michael McDonald songs, we turn to the beautiful ballad “Matters Of The Heart.” The song was released on the 1993 album Blink of an Eye. Country music star and the newest member of The Eagles, Vince Gill, sang backing vocals on this haunting track. The song “Matters Of The Heart.” was written by Michael McDonald.

# 7 -I Heard It Through the Grapevine

Yes, we all know Michael McDonald did not write this one. The classic Motown song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong was released on Michael McDonald’s Motown album. During the 2000s, Michael McDonald took a break from releasing original albums and decided to go the Rod Stewart route by releasing a few cover songs. While Rod Stewart focused on standards, McDonald focused on the sounds of Motown. It made perfect sense for McDonald, who was viewed as one of the most soulful singers of all time, to explore one of the most soulful music catalogs.

Michael McDonald released two Motown music albums. The first, Motown, was released in 2003. He followed up that album a year later, in 2004, with Motown Two. Michael McDonald spent much time on the road promoting those two records. In 2008, Michael McDonald released another album of soul covers outside of the Motown catalog entitled Soul Speak.

# 6 – On My Own

The pairing of Patti LaBelle, Michael McDonald, and Burt Bacharach almost seemed like a dream come true to fans of all three artists. One would expect great results when two of the greatest singers are paired with one of the greatest songwriters of all time. That’s precisely what happened. The result was a song entitled “On My Own,” and it went straight to number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

# 5 – Yah Mo B There

Like we said in the intro, it takes a pretty strong singer to match up with Michael McDonald in a duet. The pairing of James Ingram and Michael McDonald was perfect. It’s amazing how they both sound so similar. The soul meter blew up on this one!

“Yah Mo B There,” was written by Michael McDonald, James Ingram, Rod Temperton, and Quincy Jones. It was first released on the James Ingram album ‘It’s Your Night in 1983. Michael McDonald would release it on his Sweet Freedom – The Best of Michael McDonald in 1986. “Yah Mo B There” won a Grammy Award in 1985 for Best R&B Performance by a Duo.

# 4 – Hail Mary

It may sound hard to believe, but Michael Mcdonald went eighteen straight years without releasing an album of new material. We won’t get into the reasons why, but the period was between the release of 2000’s Blue Obsession and 2017’s Wide Open. It was good to have Michael Mcdonald back releasing new material. His latest album is represented on this top 10 Michael McDonald songs list with the album’s opening track “Hail Mary.” This one is a beauty!

# 3 – Any Foolish Thing

The groove on this one is so addicting. Everything one loves about Michael Mcdonald is found on this classic track. McDonald’s vocal on this one is beyond the stars. The song “Any Foolish Thing,” was released on the No Looking Back album. The album was released in 1985. The groove on this one will knock you out if Michael Mcdonald’s vocals don’t do it first.

 # 2 – Tear It Up

As we get closer to the number one spot on our top 10 Michael McDonald songs list the grooves keep swinging harder and the vocals are even more to die for. The great track “Tear It Up,” was released on the Take It To Heart album. The album was released in 1990. It was Michael McDonald’s third solo album.

# 1 – I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)

It would be tough to end our top 10 Michael McDonald songs list at number one with any other songs but his classic big-time solo hit “I Keep Forgettin” The song was released on his debut solo album entitled If That’s What It Takes. The album was released in 1982. Three members of the band Toto performed on the track. The song was a top 10 hit for Michael Mcdonald peaking at number four on the Billboard Hot 100.

Photo: dbking [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

Top 10 Michael McDonald Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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