Minute by Minute (The Doobie Brothers song)

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"Minute by Minute"
Single by The Doobie Brothers
from the album Minute by Minute
B-side Sweet Feelin'
Released April 1979
Format 7"
Recorded 1978
Genre Pop rock, R&B
Length 3:26
Label Warner Bros.
Writer(s) Michael McDonald,
Lester Abrams
Producer(s) Ted Templeman
The Doobie Brothers singles chronology
"What a Fool Believes"
"Minute by Minute"
"Dependin' on You"

"Minute by Minute" is a song written by Michael McDonald and Lester Abrams originally released by the Doobie Brothers on their 1978 album Minute by Minute. The single was released in April 1979, bowed at #67 on 5 May 1979, and reached #14 on 23-30 June 1979 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[1] It was nominated for a Grammy Award for "Song of the Year", but lost out to The Doobie Brothers' own "What a Fool Believes." It has since been covered by other artists, including The Temptations, Larry Carlton, Stanley Clarke, Peabo Bryson, Kim Pensyl, Helen Reddy, Bobby Lyle, and Rick Janus.[2][3]

Lyrics and music[edit]

Allmusic critic Matthew Greenwald describes "Minute by Minute" as one of the songs that reflects The Doobie Brothers' transformation to "a light, soul-oriented outfit."[4] Keyboards are more prominent in the song than in some of The Doobie Brothers' earlier hits.[5][6] Greenwald praises the "simple and literate" lyrics and notes possible influence from Booker T. & the M.G.'s in the music.[4] In their book Inside the Hits, authors Wayne Wadhams (The Fifth Estate), David Nathan, and Susan Lindsay describe the tempo as a "medium shuffle."[7] Most of "Minute by Minute" is in the key of C major, but the bridge is in E minor and the last refrains are in G major.[7] The New Rolling Stone Album Guide praises McDonald's "suave vocal mastery" on the song.[8] SPIN Magazine's Rich Stim describes the sound of the song as "phlegmatic."[9]

"Minute by Minute" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Song of the Year but lost to the Doobie Brothers' prior single, "What a Fool Believes."[10] Co-writer Michael McDonald was surprised by the song's success after a friend had told him that the song "just doesn't have it."[11]

Chart performance[edit]

In the U.S., "Minute by Minute" was the follow-up single to their #1 hit "What a Fool Believes." "Minute by Minute" did not repeat its predecessor's success, but reached the Top 20, peaking at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[1] It also reached #74 on Billboard's R&B singles chart.[1] The song also had some chart success outside the U.S., reaching #34 in New Zealand and #47 in the U.K.[12][13]

Other appearances[edit]

"Minute by Minute" has appeared on a number of Doobie Brothers' compilation albums since its initial release. It was included on Best of the Doobies, Vol. 2 in 1981, Greatest Hits in 2001 and The Very Best of The Doobie Brothers in 2007.[4] It has also appeared on a number of live albums, including Farewell Tour in 1983, The Best of the Doobie Brothers Live in 1999 and Live at the Greek Theatre 1982 in 2011.[4] On July 30, 1979, The Doobie Brothers performed "Minute by Minute" on the Dinah! show.[14]

Cover versions[edit]

The Temptations covered "Minute by Minute" on their 2007 album Back to Front.[15] It has also been covered by jazz musicians Larry Carlton, Stanley Clarke, Kim Pensyl and Bobby Lyle.[2] JazzTimes described Stanley Clarke's cover as "straight pop joy."[16] Helen Reddy covered the song on her 1979 album Reddy.[3][17] Billboard Magazine picked Reddy's version as one of the best cuts on the album, calling it "a super single possibility."[3] Peabo Bryson included "Minute by Minute" on his 2001 album Anthology.[18] Phish covered "Minute by Minute" at a few concerts in 1990.[19][20]

Meek Mill used this track on his single "Amen" featuring Drake and Jeremih.


  1. ^ a b c "Minute by Minute singles: Charts and Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  2. ^ a b "Minute by Minute covers". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  3. ^ a b c "Helen Reddy–Reddy". Billboard Magazine. June 2, 1979. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  4. ^ a b c d Greenwald, M. "Minute by Minute". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  5. ^ Rideout, E. (2010). Keyboard Presents: Classic Rock. Hal Leaonard. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-87930-952-7. 
  6. ^ Grien, P. (July 14, 1979). "Talent in Action: Doobie Brothers, Roger Voudouris". p. 27. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  7. ^ a b Wadhams, W., Nathan, D. & Lindsay, S.G. (2001). Inside the Hits. Berklee Press. pp. 23, 399–400. ISBN 978-0-634-01430-7. 
  8. ^ Sisario, B.; et al. (2004). Brackett, N. & Hoard, C.D., ed. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon and Schuster. pp. 253–254. ISBN 978-0-7432-0169-8. 
  9. ^ Stim, R. (September 1989). "The Doobie Brothers: Cycles". SPIN Magazine. p. 90. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  10. ^ "Grammy Awards 1980". Awards and Shows. Retrieved 2012-02-15. 
  11. ^ Morse, T. (1998). Classic rock stories: the stories behind the greatest songs of all time. MacMillan. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-312-18067-6. 
  12. ^ "The Doobie Brothers – Minute by Minute". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  13. ^ "Doobie Brothers". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  14. ^ Bego, M. (2005). Jackson Browne: His Life and Music. Citadel Press. pp. 112–113. ISBN 978-0-8065-2642-3. 
  15. ^ Henderson, A. "Back to Front". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-02-15. 
  16. ^ Grey, H. (October 1994). "Currents". JazzTimes. p. 50. Retrieved 2012-02-15. 
  17. ^ Donovan, C. "Reddy". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-02-15. 
  18. ^ Planer, L. "Anthology". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-02-15. 
  19. ^ Mockingbird Foundation (2004). The Phish companion: a guide to the band and their music (2nd ed.). Hal Leonard. ISBN 978-0-87930-799-8. 
  20. ^ Thompson, D. (1997). Go Phish. MacMillan. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-312-16854-4. 

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