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