What a Fool Believes: A Memoir

What a Fool Believes: A Memoir

by Michael McDonald, Paul Reiser

Narrated by Michael McDonald, Paul Reiser

Unabridged — 10 hours, 57 minutes

What a Fool Believes: A Memoir

What a Fool Believes: A Memoir

by Michael McDonald, Paul Reiser

Narrated by Michael McDonald, Paul Reiser

Unabridged — 10 hours, 57 minutes

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Overview

A sweeping and evocative memoir from the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, Grammy Award-winning, platinum selling singer-songwriter Michael McDonald, written with his friend, Emmy Award-nominated actor, comedian, and*#1 New York Times*bestselling author Paul Reiser.

Doobie Brothers. Steely Dan. Chart topping soloist. Across a half-century of American music, Michael McDonald's unmistakably smooth baritone voice defined an era of rock and R&B with hit records like “What A Fool Believes,” “Takin' It to the Streets,” “I Keep Forgettin',” “Peg,” “It Keeps You Running,” “You Belong to Me,” and “Yah Mo B There.”

In his candid, freewheeling memoir, written with his friend, the Emmy Award-nominated actor and comedian Paul Reiser, Michael tells the story of his life and music. A high school dropout from Ferguson, Missouri, Michael chased his dreams in 1970's California, a heady moment of rock opportunity and excess. As a rising session musician and backing vocalist, a series of encounters would send him on a wild ride around the world and to the heights of rock stardom-from joining Steely Dan and becoming a defining member of The Doobie Brothers to forging a path as a breakout solo R&B artist.

Interwoven with the unforgettable tales of the music, Michael tells a deeply affecting story of losing and finding himself as a man. He reckons with the unshakeable insecurities that drove him, the drug and alcohol addictions that plagued him, and the highs and lows of popularity. Along the way he relays the lessons he's learned, and that if he's learned anything at all it's that there's often little correlation between what you get and what you deserve.

Filled with unbelievable stories and a matchless cast of music greats including James Taylor, Ray Charles, Carly Simon, and Quincy Jones, What a Fool Believes is a moving and entertaining memoir that is sure to be a classic.*

Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.


Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

The singer and songwriter with a silky-smooth voice has written a memoir with Paul Reiser that recounts his story of pain and redemption with dashes of humor...the more you read and think and listen, the more his voice seems like a connecting thread running through America’s popular-music tapestry that, if pulled, might unravel the whole thing — or at least, leave a significant, unmendable hole.” — New York Times

“Unvarnished and humble...the portrait of a remarkable singer-songwriter who had career highs and terrible lows, who battled alcoholism and self-doubt, endured popularity, mocking and then rejuvenation.” — Associated Press

“For all its surface smoothness, yacht rock — and the artists who created it over the last few decades — can be turbulent below deck...As he reveals in his new memoir, no one encompasses that dichotomy quite like Michael McDonald. That gently huffing mellow voice and electric piano often hid a wild lifestyle, at least during his early, pre-sober days in the music business when he was a member of Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers.” — Rolling Stone

What a Fool Believes, which was co-written by McDonald's longtime friend and actor Paul Reiser, tells McDonald's life story from first stepping up to the mic as a child to working with idols like Ray Charles and Patti LaBelle — and of course, the Doobie Brothers. It also sees McDonald getting vulnerable like never before as he recounts his wife's breast cancer diagnosis and journey with addiction.” — People

“The book, which he co-wrote with Paul Reiser—yes, the Paul Reiser—isn’t your typical “Yeah, we trashed a few hotel rooms and banged some groupies, but then things changed” kind of rock-star autobiography. It’s deeper than that, more honest, light on the bravado.” — GQ

“What do you get when you combine a 1970s music legend, a 1990s sitcom star and a global pandemic? Michael McDonald’s memoir, obviously...What a Fool Believes is oddly difficult to classify, standing out somewhat from the deluge of celebrity memoirs. It’s a little bit of everything: an addiction memoir, a career retrospective, a series of funny rock-and-roll vignettes, a rumination on family...vulnerable and honest.” — Washington Post

“Candid...What a Fool Believes reveals McDonald’s career highs—like joining Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers—and personal lows, including his battles with drug and alcohol addiction.” — AARP

“An honest, revealing telling of [McDonald's] life, career and journey to sobriety.” — WGN

“He possesses one of the most recognizable voices in Classic Rock. A voice that stretches from a rich, buttery and slightly grizzly baritone to a piercing howl of a tenor...But what even his fans probably don’t know are the ups and downs of his life in more detail. That changes with the publication of his autobiography, What A Fool Believes...A revealing read, and has a conversational, easy tone that goes down as easily to the reading eyes as McDonald’s voice does to the listening ears.” — Houston Press

“Like its namesake song, McDonald’s memoir is refreshingly self-deprecating and, at its core, an underdog’s triumph.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Singer and songwriter Michael McDonald debuts with an affecting account of his early life, career trajectory, and struggles with addiction. . . . McDonald’s down-to-earth approach gives this rock and roll tell-all more weight than others of its kind.” — Publishers Weekly

“Yacht rock has many big names, but none have made their presence felt across the genre more than McDonald. As a solo artist, member of the Doobie Brothers and backing vocalist on dozens of classics, McDonald’s uniquely soulful voice is practically a signature on a song...[What A Fool Believes] is an engaging story that readers of music bios will enjoy. McDonald’s musical journey as a backing singer, a side musician, and a front man is fascinating because it is different from that of many other pop/rock stars.”—Library Journal — Library Journal

“Michael McDonald is one of the most gifted musicians of our time. Over the last half century, his incredible talents have placed him in the eye of the musical hurricane and this vivid memoir brings it all to life. What a Fool Believes is essential reading for every music fan.” — Don Was

“Michael is the type of artist you are lucky to have in your lifetime. His voice has been one of the biggest inspirations in my development as a songwriter and singer. A very sweet and awesome person—the most Doobiest of brothers. It makes my day better knowing that somewhere in the world Michael McDonald is pondering what comes next.” — Thundercat

“Working with Michael on my first album, “Be Here Soon” was a dream come true. Not only did he bring his talent, creativity, and soul to our project, but his love and generosity of spirit was limitless. He’s a wonderful friend, an incredible musician, and a beautiful human being.” — Jeff Bridges

Library Journal

05/01/2024

Yacht rock—the neologism for a style of soft rock from the late 1970s and early '80s—has many big names, but none have made their presence felt across the genre more than McDonald. As a solo artist, member of the Doobie Brothers and backing vocalist on dozens of classics, McDonald's uniquely soulful voice is practically a signature on a song. Steely Dan, Kenny Loggins, Christopher Cross, and many others have utilized his vocal talents to take their songs up a notch. How this Midwest musician from modest beginnings became such a recognizable star is the subject of this autobiography. McDonald recruited actor/comedian Paul Reiser, who is also one of his friends, to be his coauthor, an unusual but winning choice. The narrative moves along at a steady rhythm while not getting too bogged down in the details. Having a talented monologist like Reiser help out with an autobiography is something that should happen more often in this genre. VERDICT An engaging story that readers of music bios will enjoy. McDonald's musical journey as a backing singer, a side musician, and a front man is fascinating because it is different from that of many other pop/rock stars.—Brett Rohlwing

Kirkus Reviews

★ 2024-02-16
The veteran singer and keyboardist covers much of the same ground that many of his contemporaries traveled, but his memoir is filled with charming surprises.

A lot of the surprises have to do with his co-writer. Reiser, best known as the star and co-creator of the sitcom Mad About You, gives McDonald’s stories the structure and pacing of a TV show. The resulting chapters—especially those about McDonald’s family and how his love for his father shaped his life as a teenage performer—fly by early on, even though they cover the lesser-known years of the acclaimed musician’s life. McDonald doesn’t offer many salacious details about his split with the Doobie Brothers following the success of the chart-topping hit “What a Fool Believes,” which won record and song of the year honors at the Grammy Awards in 1980. He is gracious about the band’s internal battles and forthcoming about his substance abuse without discussing the drug use of others. “My attitude was: coke should be reserved for a special occasion,” he writes. “But as time went on, I managed to christen more and more occasions as ‘special.’” The emotional heart of the narrative is his exploration of how he realized his addiction made it impossible for him to help his wife, the singer Amy Holland, battle her own problems. McDonald offers insights into the creation of some of his most famous songs, including “You Belong to Me” with Carly Simon, as well as his worries about tackling the Motown catalog for his career-boosting Motown album series. McDonald writes from a solid, self-aware place, able to joke about his position as one of yacht rock’s most famous voices, alongside Christopher Cross, Kenny Loggins, and others.

Like its namesake song, McDonald’s memoir is refreshingly self-deprecating and, at its core, an underdog’s triumph.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940160562063
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 05/21/2024
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 200,413
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