What a Fool Believes

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"What a Fool Believes"
Artwork for one of U.S. 7-inch vinyl pressings, also used for the album, which contains the song
Single by The Doobie Brothers
from the album Minute by Minute
B-side "Don't Stop to Watch the Wheels"
Released January 1979
Format 7"
Recorded August 1978
Genre Soft rock[1][2][3]
Length 3:41
Label Warner Bros.
Writer(s) Michael McDonald,
Kenny Loggins
Producer(s) Ted Templeman
Certification Gold
The Doobie Brothers singles chronology
"Echoes of Love"
"What a Fool Believes"
"Minute by Minute"

"What a Fool Believes" is a song written by Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. The best-known version was recorded by The Doobie Brothers (with McDonald singing lead vocals) for their 1978 album Minute by Minute. Debuting at #73 on 20 January 1979, the single reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on 14 April 1979 for one week.[4] The song received Grammy Awards in 1980 for both Song of the Year and Record of the Year.

"What a Fool Believes" was one of the few non-disco No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 during the first eight months of 1979. The song lyrics tell a story of a man who is reunited with an old love interest and attempts to rekindle a romantic relationship with her before discovering that one never really existed.

Michael Jackson once claimed he contributed at least one backing track to the original Doobie Brothers recording, but was not credited for having done so.[5] This was later denied by the band.[6]

Chart performance[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1979) Peak
Australia KMR 12
Canada RPM 1
Netherlands 10
New Zealand[7] 5
UK 31
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[8] 1
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary 22
U.S. Cash Box Top 100[9] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1979) Rank
Australia[10] 75
Canada[11] 31
New Zealand[12] 37
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[13] 19
U.S. Cash Box[14] 5

Other versions by Loggins and McDonald[edit]

Kenny Loggins released a version of the song (five months prior to The Doobie Brothers) on his 1978 album Nightwatch, and a live version on his 1980 album Kenny Loggins Alive. Loggins' original version switches several of the gender pronouns, so that it is sung largely from the perspective of the woman in the encounter.

There is a Loggins/McDonald live duet on Loggins' 1993 album Outside: From the Redwoods.[15]

Warner Brothers also released a 12" single disco version by The Doobie Brothers (backed with "Don't Stop to Watch the Wheels"). Mixed by disco producer Jim Burgess, at 5:31 the song is considerably longer than the 3:41 versions on the 7" single and the Minute by Minute LP. The 12" version also has a more pronounced bass-driven drumbeat.[16][17]

Live versions of the song often feature a guitar bridge after the second verse.

Matt Bianco version[edit]

"What a Fool Believes"
Single by Matt Bianco
from the album Samba in Your Casa
B-side "Samba in Your Casa" (Cashassa Mix)
"Say It's Not Too Late"
Released 1991
Format 12"
Genre Latin jazz
Length 4:23
Label EastWest Records
Writer(s) Michael McDonald,
Kenny Loggins

"What a Fool Believes" is a 12" vinyl EP by Matt Bianco, released in 1991.

Track listing[edit]

  • A. "What a Fool Believes" (Mixed by Bobby Summerfield)
  • B1. "Samba in Your Casa" (Cashassa Mix) (Mixed by Bobby Summerfield)
  • B2. "Say It's Not Too Late"

Other cover versions[edit]

Numerous cover versions of the song have been recorded, including:

Appearances in other media[edit]


  1. ^ "Doobie Brothers should be members of the Rock Hall of Fame | Goldmine Magazine". Goldminemag.com. 2012-02-12. Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  2. ^ "Grammy Awards Record of the Year Winners". Top40.about.com. 2012-04-10. Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  3. ^ "VH1's 40 Most Softsational Soft-Rock Songs". Stereogum. SpinMedia. May 31, 2007. Retrieved July 31, 2016. 
  4. ^ Joel Whitburn, The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 1996, Billboard Books, p.189
  5. ^ "Michael Jackson Singing Doobie Brothers Minute By Minute _ What a Fool Believes - RARE". YouTube. 2010-01-31. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  6. ^ "Rumor Debunked: Michael Jackson Never Sang on a Doobie Brothers Record". Ultimate Classic Rock. 2014-04-18. Retrieved 2015-06-23. 
  7. ^ http://nztop40.co.nz/chart/singles?chart=2841
  8. ^ [Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-2002]
  9. ^
  10. ^ David Kent's "Australian Chart Book 1970-1992"
  11. ^ http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/films-videos-sound-recordings/rpm/Pages/image.aspx?Image=nlc008388.6855a&URLjpg=http%3a%2f%2fwww.collectionscanada.gc.ca%2fobj%2f028020%2ff4%2fnlc008388.6855a.gif&Ecopy=nlc008388.6855a
  12. ^ http://nztop40.co.nz/chart/?chart=3868
  13. ^ http://www.musicoutfitters.com/topsongs/1979.htm
  14. ^
  15. ^ There is a video of this performance on YouTube titled: "Kenny Loggins What A Fool Believes Live 1992".
  16. ^ What A Fool Believes (12"), discomusic.com. They comment: Disco from an unlikely artist ... "What A Fool Believes" was remixed by the late Jim Burgess to enhance its dance floor appeal. Another good Doobie Brothers 12 inch release was "Real Love".
  17. ^ This 12" single was recorded at 33⅓ rpm, which enables better bass response; see 12-inch single for more information.
  18. ^ a b Aretha Franklin has two versions of this song, with the 1999 version being an edited version of the 1980 one.
  19. ^ George Michael at musiclovers.de. What a Fool Believes appears as track 14 on this bootleg recording, and is designated as one of George Michael's "rare recording"s. Most recently retrieved: 2007-09-14.
  20. ^ The Wades at Soul and funk music.com. Most recently retrieved: 2007-09-14.
  21. ^ Lackthereof web site. Most recently retrieved: 2007-09-14.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Tragedy" by The Bee Gees
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
April 14, 1979
Succeeded by
"Knock on Wood" by Amii Stewart