(Above: Even the album title is decent.)
I suppose now is as good a time as any for a confession.
There are some groups that, try as I have, I just can’t get into. Groups that, as a fan of music from a particular period, I am supposed to embrace. We all have a few of these. I’m not talking about bands for which there’s outright contempt (I’m thinking of the Spin Doctors here), but bands that I just don’t quite feel the same reaction as the masses do.
For me, one such band is the Doobie Brothers. I’ve never quite gotten the appeal of them. I can’t begin to estimate how many times I’ve been paid to play “China Grove” on the radio, and – here’s the kicker – I’ve never once had a listener ask me to play it, either. (Maybe we are playing it just the right amount?) In fact, if I look down the list of their charted hits, there’s a common theme: Of the sixteen songs that the Doobies put into the Top 40, I can do without hearing each and every one of them – except one – ever again.
Part of the reason, I think, is that the Doobie Brothers are really two bands: the pre-Michael McDonald version and the post. The biggest hits, by and large, are the ones that feature McDonald’s adenoids front and center. (There’s another outlier in that “The Doctor” made #9 in 1989, and I think even staunch fans of the band don’t want to acknowledge that one.) “Minute by Minute” struck me as a song that never really ever got started, and most other McDonald vocals get hard to tell apart. On the pre-McDonald side, you’ve got “Black Water,” which I wouldn’t get out of my chair to turn off, but I’d never seek out. “Take Me In Your Arms” is a Kim Weston song, and you can’t convince me otherwise. I just don’t have a whole lot of interest in going up and down this list.
That is, until we get to “Another Park Another Sunday.” A #32 single from What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits, it’s a damned beautiful record. I’ve only been able to play it on two stations: occasionally on WYSY, the short-lived and over-consulted all-70’s station that aired in Chicago in the 1990s, and WERV in the Chicago suburbs in the early 2000s, where I had a habit of slipping in songs that were supposed to be rejected because other stations did not play them. (I once had a conversation there that went something like this: Them: “That song on the air – it’s not being reported by stations online.” Me: “Well, they didn’t ask us, or it would be there.”) Most other places, if I went to throw the song in, I’d get odd looks, and asked why we weren’t just playing “China Grove” instead.
It’s that sort of record that, well, I can’t quite explain: it’s just got – something. That something is enough to make me overlook a whole catalog of music I don’t care for to find one record I’d put on a loop. I’m sure that if I went through my library I’d find more examples of this sort of phenomenon, but I don’t know if I’d find a song this good as the example.
See if it makes your personal playlist. You can hear “Another Park Another Sunday” by clicking here.
5 thoughts on “A notable exception: The Doobie Brothers, “Another Park Another Sunday” (1974)”
“Another Park” is an all-timer, and I’d put in a good word for “South City Midnight Lady, although it wasn’t a single, I don’t think.
FWIW, I’m that way with Pink Floyd. Just not interested and never have been.
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It’s funny you say that about Pink Floyd. I’ve liked some of their work and been take-it-or-leave-it with others. Right around the same time I started in college radio they released A Momentary Lapse of Reason, which everyone on the station clamored to play tracks from. I threw “Learning to Fly” on and didn’t get it. The same phenomenon occurred at WXLP when the live version of the Wall played at the Berlin Wall came out. (Of course, I liked The Final Cut, which probably is all a Floyd fan needs to hear.)
I’m looping it! It’s always been my favorite DB song, I never tire of it, and I can relate to everything you say. It’s got “something” for sure! The opening, Johnston’s interpretation, the baseline…it just all works so beautifully.
Om! I totally agree with you. Bought the 45 when I was young. It was the flipside to Black water which I hated!
I straight up agree with you. Class of ‘73 here who did not like the DB. First heard Another Park, Another Sunday in 2020 and have had it on loop ever since. Especially on Sunday. I enjoyed your article.
Cheers, from DC.