What a Fool Believes

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"What a Fool Believes"
What a Fool Believes by The Doobie Brothers US vinyl 7-inch.jpg
Artwork for one of US 7-inch vinyl pressings, also used for the parent album
Single by The Doobie Brothers
from the album Minute by Minute
B-side"Don't Stop to Watch the Wheels"
ReleasedJanuary 1979
RecordedAugust 1978
StudioWarner Bros. Recording Studios, North Hollywood, California
Length3:41 (Album / Single Version)
5:28 (Extended Version)
LabelWarner Bros.
Songwriter(s)Michael McDonald,
Kenny Loggins
Producer(s)Ted Templeman
The Doobie Brothers singles chronology
"Nothin' But a Heartache"
"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 number 73 on January 20, 1979, the single reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on April 14, 1979 for one week.[6] The song received Grammy Awards in 1980 for both Song of the Year and Record of the Year.

The song was one of the few non-disco No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 during the first eight months of 1979. The 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.

It was claimed that Michael Jackson contributed at least one backing track to the original Doobie Brothers recording, but was not credited for having done so. This was later denied by the band.[7]

Original Kenny Loggins version[edit]

"What a Fool Believes"
Song by Kenny Loggins
from the album Nightwatch
ReleasedJuly 12, 1978
GenreSoft rock
Songwriter(s)Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald
Producer(s)Bob James

Kenny Loggins, co-writer of the song, released his version of "What a Fool Believes" five months prior to the Doobie Brothers version on his second album Nightwatch, released on July 12, 1978. It appears as the third track on Side Two of both the LP and cassette formats of the album.

The Doobie Brothers version[edit]

In December 1978, five months after Loggins' original recording was released, the Doobie Brothers (with McDonald on vocals) included a cover version on their album Minute by Minute, with their version being released as a single the following month. This is the best-known version of the song, debuting at number 73 on the Billboard Hot 100 on January 20, 1979 and then reaching number one on April 14, 1979 for one week.[6] This version received Grammy Awards in 1980 for both Song of the Year and Record of the Year.


Billboard magazine praised the vocal performance, synthesizers and production.[8] The reviewer described the song as building from a melodic first verse "to a heart warming hook chorus".[8]


Additional players



Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[24] Silver 200,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[25] Gold 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Other versions by Loggins and McDonald[edit]

A live version appears on Loggins' 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.

A reissue of the single was released in 1987 credited to the Doobie Brothers featuring Michael McDonald. It was included on McDonald's 1986 compilation album Sweet Freedom and was credited here as Michael McDonald with the Doobie Brothers. It reached No. 57 on the UK Singles Chart in January 1987.[26]

There is a Loggins/McDonald live duet on Loggins' 1993 album Outside: From the Redwoods.[27]

Warner Brothers also released a 12-inch single disco version by the Doobie Brothers in 1978 (backed with "Don't Stop to Watch the Wheels"), which peaked at number 40 on Billboard's Disco Action Chart in April 1979. Mixed by disco producer Jim Burgess, at 5:31 the song is considerably longer than the 3:41 versions on the 7-inch single and the Minute by Minute LP. The 12-inch version also has a more pronounced bass-driven drumbeat.[28]

Matt Bianco version[edit]

"What a Fool Believes"
Single by Matt Bianco
from the album Samba in Your Casa
  • "Samba in Your Casa (Cashassa Mix)"
  • "Say It's Not Too Late"
GenreLatin jazz
LabelEastWest Records
Songwriter(s)Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins

British band Matt Bianco released their version of "What a Fool Believes" as a single in 1991. It is from their fourth album Samba in Your Casa. The single reached No. 23 on the Irish Singles Chart in early 1992.[29]

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:


  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. ^ "Michael McDonald". Goldstar.
  5. ^ "Michael McDonald | Biography & History". AllMusic.
  6. ^ a b Joel Whitburn, The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 1996, Billboard Books, p. 189
  7. ^ "Rumor Debunked: Michael Jackson Never Sang on a Doobie Brothers Record". Ultimate Classic Rock. 2014-04-18. Retrieved 2015-06-23.
  8. ^ a b "Top Single Picks" (PDF). Billboard. January 27, 1979. p. 102. Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  9. ^ Templeman, Ted; Renoff, Greg (2020). Ted Templeman: A Platinum Producer’s Life in Music. ECW Press. p. 285.
  10. ^ "Classic Tracks: The Doobie Brothers' "What a Fool Believes"". May 2004. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  11. ^ Templeman, Ted; Renoff, Greg (2020). Ted Templeman: A Platinum Producer’s Life in Music. ECW Press. p. 283-284.
  12. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 92. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  13. ^ "RPM 100 Singles" (PDF). 28 April 1979. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  14. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1978-05-12. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  15. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – What a Fool Believes". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  16. ^ "NZ Top 40 Singles Chart | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Nztop40.co.nz. 1979-05-20. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  17. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  18. ^ "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending April 7, 1979". Archived from the original on 5 February 2011. Retrieved 2018-04-03.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)Cash Box magazine.
  19. ^ "Australian Chart Book". Austchartbook.com.au. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  20. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". Bac-lac.gc.ca. 17 July 2013. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  21. ^ "Top Selling Singles of 1979 | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Nztop40.co.nz. 1979-12-31. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  22. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1979/Top 100 Songs of 1979". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  23. ^ "Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles". Cash Box. December 29, 1979. Archived from the original on December 13, 2010. Retrieved 2018-04-03.
  24. ^ "British single certifications – Doobie Brothers – What a Fool Believes". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved January 26, 2021.
  25. ^ "American single certifications – Doobie Brothers – What a Fool Believes". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved January 26, 2021.
  26. ^ "DOOBIE BROTHERS AND MICHAEL MCDONALD | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com.
  27. ^ There is a video of this performance on YouTube titled: "Kenny Loggins What A Fool Believes Live 1992".
  28. ^ [[1] "What A Fool Believes (12")"] Check |url= value (help). 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"
  29. ^ "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Irishcharts.ie.
  30. ^ Aretha Franklin has two versions of this song, with the 1999 version being an edited version of the 1980 one.
  31. ^ "George Michael". Archived from the original on 2007-07-13. Retrieved 2007-07-11.
  32. ^ "Album | The Wades | The Feel Good Factor | Hitcity Records | | | 1997". Soulandfunkmusic.com. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  33. ^ "UNCHAIN - Love & Groove Delivery". April 14, 2013. Retrieved December 3, 2021.

Further reading[edit]

Templeman, Ted; Renoff, Greg (2020). Ted Templeman: A Platinum Producer's Life In Music. Toronto: ECW Press. pp. 280–5. ISBN 9781770414839. OCLC 1121143123.