Hear a Powerhouse Live Performance of ‘What the World Needs Now’ from Michael McDonald


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Rock Cellar Magazine
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Michael McDonald has released a new live cover of “What the World Needs Now,” the 1965 hit by Jackie DeShannon that was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David — and yes, McDonald’s silky smooth voice is a perfect fit for the classic song.

The timely cover song was recorded during a live performance from McDonald in 2019 and was premiered via Billboard:

“What the World Needs Now” is the second premiere from Michael McDonald in recent weeks, coming after another live cut from 2019 — a spin on Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” which also sounds magnificent delivered by McDonald:

As McDonald told Billboard with the new premiere, ending his live gigs with these warm songs is the point:

“We always end our evening with one of those two songs, or both,” McDonald — who’s slated to inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the Doobie Brothers on Nov. 7 — tells Billboard from quarantine in his home near Santa Barbara, Calif. “We’ve tried to make our live shows leave people with a sense of community and a little something more important than just all of us getting together to hear some live music. That’s certainly a wonderful thing…but nonetheless we take the opportunity to say something beyond that to all the people who are nice enough to come hear us that points to the fact we’re a community. And the mindfulness of being a community is always important — especially now.”

He also says he has a new EP coming — one that was originally intended to be sold on the road with the Doobie Brothers on their 50th anniversary tour:

… he’s planning to release an EP of material he’s been working on with local musicians in a converted barn studio on a ranch his friend owns north of Santa Barbara. Intended to be a merch item for the Doobie Brothers’ 50th anniversary tour this year, the set combines “some songs I’ve written over the years I thought I might never record” — including a composing collaboration with David Crosby — as well as a “very broke down” version of Neil Young’s “Helpless” and renditions of some of McDonald’s previous material, including the Doobies’ “It Keeps You Runnin’,” “What a Fool Believes” and “You Belong to Me” done in samba and bossa nova styles.

“It turned out to be a California kind of project,” says McDonald. “We just kind of hang out at the barn and jam, and we started doing some of these songs and this is what it turned into. It was originally going to be something I did just for the tour but it’s turned into something a little more than that.”

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be a significant threat to the Doobies’ 50th anniversary tour taking place this summer. It’s currently scheduled to begin on June 9, but it remains to be seen if the outing will be postponed or canceled outright as a result of the pandemic.


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