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On this day 26 years ago in 1973, the Doobie Brothers released the song “China Grove.” I know, it’s a random, arbitrary kind of thing to note, but still … there it is.
The song was released on the album The Captain and Me, but most people know the song through the greatest hits album, The Best of the Doobies, was issued to everyone male of a certain age during the late 1970s. I believe we had both the 8-track AND the album (maybe because I had two brothers).
According to Songfacts.com, the song was written by lead singer Tom Johnston, who left the band 2 years later with a stomach ailment. Michael McDonald, who hired to fill in for Johnston when he was too sick to tour, took over full time vocal duties.
Now, not for nothing, but comparing “China Grove” with “What a Fool Believes” is not really a comparison. “China Grove” is much cooler and grittier. I’m not saying that Michael MacDonald ruined the band, I’m just saying “China Grove” is a greater song and he would have ruined it.
I used to live near China Grove, N.C. (pop. 3,616 in 2000). I’m sure the band didn’t mean to, but they inexplicably tied themselves to my memory by writing this song.
So congratulations, Doobies. Thanks for sticking in my brain and occupying the brain cells that should be devoted to balancing my check book!