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TOM JOHNSTON RECALLS WRITING FIRST DOOBIE BROTHERS CLASSIC

12/12/2012

With the release of the new career-spanning documentary, Let The Music Play: The Story Of The Doobie Brothers, guitarist and bandleader Tom Johnston is definitely in a reflective mood. He spoke to Ultimate Classic Rock about the band's breakthrough Top 20 hit, "Listen To The Music" which just celebrated its 40th anniversary along with the band's second album, Toulouse Street.

 

Johnston recalled writing the song that remains one of the highlights of the Doobies' live setlist: "The chord structure of it made me think of something positive, so the lyrics that came out of that were based on this Utopian idea that if the leaders of the world got together on some grassy hill somewhere and either smoked enough dope or just sat down and just listened to the music and forgot about all this other bulls***m the world would be a much better place. It was very Utopian and very unrealistic. It seemed like a good idea at the time."

  • He went on to talk about the political circumstances behind the song: "War was raging . . . there was a lot of stuff going on then. This was my way of saying, 'Really, come on guys, what if you just brought it down a couple of notches and just try to get along?' My version of Rodney King, I guess."
  • Tom Johnston told us that producer Ted Templeman played a pivotal part in shaping the Doobies' records: "The best way to describe it is, we'd write the tunes -- we'd write a bunch of tunes, right? And he would select whatever tunes he thought would be good for the album and then he would direct us about the drum patterns, or y'know, the vocal stylings. He was more of a director as well as a producer back in those days -- now that's not really quite the case. Everybody's matured a great deal, and songwriting and ideas of how it's gonna be put together and also as far as how the song sounds when you walk in with it."

  • UPDATED: The Doobie Brothers tour dates (subject to change):
    December 13 - Los Angeles, CA - Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE
    December 30 - Coquitlam, BC - Red Robinson Theatre
    December 31 - Richmond, BC - River Rock Show Theater
    February 24 - Tampa, FL - Giwazi Stage/Busch Gardens - Tampa
    February 26 - Hollywood, FL - Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
    March 22 - Biloxi, MS - IP Casino, Resort & Spa
    March 23 - Bossier City, LA - Horseshoe Bossier Cty-Riverdom
    March 24 - Robinsonville, MS - Horseshoe Tunica Casino Hotel - "Bluesville"
    March 28 - Rama, Ontario - Casino Rama Entertainment Center
    March 29 - Windsor, Ontario - Colosseum at Caesar's Windsor
    April 1, 2 - Milwaukee, WI - Potawatomi Bingo Casino
    April 3 - Effingham, IL - Effingham Performance Center
    April 5 - Mahnomen, MN - Shooting Star Casino
    April 6 - Red Wing, MN - Treasure Island Resort & Casino
    April 9 - Salina, KS - Stiefel Theatre for the Performing Arts
    April 10 - Colorado Springs, CO - Pikes Peak Center
    April 12 - Scottsdale, AZ - Arizona Bike Week
    April 13 - Riverside, CA - Fox Performing Arts Center

FAST FACTS

  • During the Doobie Brothers' golden period, Ted Templeman was behind the board for such classics as "Long Train Runnin'," "Jesus Is Just Alright," "China Grove," "Listen To The Music," "Rockin' Down The Highway," "Black Water," "Takin' It To The Streets," "Minute By Minute," and "What A Fool Believes."
  • In addition to the Doobies, Ted Templeman has had tremendous success behind the boards for Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, and Little Feat -- not to mention Van Halen's first six albums; Van Halen, Van Halen II, Women And Children First, Fair Warning, Diver Down, and 1984.

CHECK IT OUT: The Doobie Brothers in 1973 performing "Listen To The Music" on The Midnight Special:

Tom Johnston On Ted Templeman


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