Michael McDonald, best known for vocals on definitive 1970s Doobie Brothers tracks “Minute By Minute,” “Little Darling (I Need You)” and “What a Fool Believes,” has a truly inimitable marble-y warble. It’s also made him ripe for send-ups — in “South Park” and “Family Guy” — often with his participation. “I have yet to meet Seth MacFarlane, but his people have asked me to do voiceovers over the phone,” he says. “So I would do my best Michael McDonald, whether it’s me sneezing or whatever, and they’d just crack up on the other end.” Now he’s entered a whole new era of relevance, with a solo album “Wide Open” (of original material) and a roster of hip young collaborators.
It’s cool to be so recognizable that you’re satire-ready, right?
Yeah. And it’s fun to do that stuff. Especially when my kids were a little younger — they’re grown now. But a lot of that stuff happened in their early teens, and they just got the biggest kick out of it. They would tape all of it and make sure that they tortured me with it sufficiently before they erased it to make room for whatever new humiliation was coming my way.
What was the strangest referential nod you received?
Well, doing “30 Rock” was a lot of fun. But doing the thing with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake (as three Michael McDonalds singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” on “The Tonight Show”), halfway through the song I realized that I was the target of the whole thing, and it almost made me laugh out loud. Like, “Hey, wait a minute! I’m up here doing a spoof of myself!”
How did the artist Thundercat recruit you and Kenny Loggins to co-write his tune “Show You the Way”?
Kenny organized that chance to write with Steve (Bruner, aka Thundercat), because Steve had mentioned us in an interview. And it was such an easy thing. We got together in the studio and just started working on some song ideas. And within a week, we’d finished the song, then Steve produced the record, recorded it with his group, and we sang on it. And from the get-go, there was a great resonance between us.
And you sang “What a Fool Believes” live with Solange Knowles?
We crossed paths at the Okeechobee Festival. I was playing it as part of a jam night, and Solange was one of the acts on the bill. So on a whim, I invited her up to sing, because she said she loved “What a Fool Believes,” and that she used to sing it around the house. She graciously agreed, and she just sang it so beautifully.
IF YOU GO
Boz Scaggs, Michael McDonald
Where: Mountain Winery, 14831 Pierce Road, Saratoga
When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 8
Tickets: $49.50 to $129.50
Contact: (408) 741-2822, www.axs.comDoobie BrothersKenny LogginsMichael McDonaldPop MusicRowRow Your BoatThundercatWide Open