Listen to the Music by the Doobie Brothers has always been a favorite of this writer. I can remember it being played regularly on Septembers juke box - a bar at 75th St and 2nd Ave, NYC. That was 1972-73. Jumping ahead, way ahead to 2014 there was a version on YouTube of the song sung at the CMA Awards including Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, Hunter Hayes and Jennifer Nettles. Shortly after it appeared it was pulled by YouTube but we have it here. It's on the bottom of the page.

by Joe Blevins

Listen to the Music is a song recorded by The Doobie Brothers on their second album Toulouse Street. This song was The Doobie Brothers' first big hit in 1972, it remains a concert staple and is one of The Doobie Brothers' biggest hits. This song is usually played as the last song at The Doobie Brothers' concerts. It was written by Tom Johnston.

The Doobie Brothers' first hit, this was written by the band's lead vocalist Tom Johnston, who also played guitar on the track. He told us about this song: "It was all based around this somewhat Utopian view of the world. 

Recent & Very Decent Cover Version Oct, 2015

The idea was that music would lift man up to a higher plane, and that world leaders, if they were able to sit down on some big grassy knoll where the sun was shining and hear music - such as the type I was playing - would figure out that everybody had more in common than they had not in common, and it was certainly not worth getting in such a bad state of affairs about. Everybody in the world would therefore benefit from this point of view. Just basically that music would make everything better. And of course I've since kind of realized it doesn't work that way."

Johnston has seen the music industry change dramatically - and for the worse - since he formed The Doobie Brothers in 1970. Watching record companies fail to properly develop artists is an example: The Doobie Brothers' self-titled first album was a flop, but Warner Brothers Records stuck with them, never pressuring them to produce a hit, and The Doobies developed into a very successful Rock band. Radio stations were victims of deregulation and were taken over by large corporations in the '90s, many now bankrupt. (This led to automation and structure that limited playlists and innovation. Then there's the matter of The Internet a whole unto itself.

Johnston wrote many classic Doobie Brothers songs, including "China Grove" and "Long Train Runnin'." This, however, was the only time he produced a guitar lick that he knew would become a hit. Says Johnston: "I was sitting in my bedroom in San Jose. I was doing what I always do, I had been up playing guitar for hours. It was like 2 or 3 in the morning. I had the opening riff to it, and I think I figured out all of the chord changes as well. I called Teddy (producer Ted Templeman), woke him up, and played it for him over the phone, and he was less than enthusiastic. (laughing) I think it was because I woke him up. But he said, 'Well, yeah, it might be pretty good. Needs a couple of changes.' But we didn't ever change anything. It stayed the way it was, the way I had it. The chord changes and everything we made are the same. In the studio, the bass part was added by Tiran (Porter), drums were added by Mike (Hossack), and Pat (Simmons) came up with a couple of parts and put in that banjo at the end. And it was the second time anybody had ever used something like phasing on a record. First time was 'The Big Hurt' by Toni Fisher. But things like 'Long Train Runnin',' I said, 'You're nuts. It'll never be a single.' And it was."

The chorus of this song has been used many times for radio jingles.

In Al Kooper's memoir Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards, Kooper relates appearing onstage as a guest for a live show by The Doobie Brothers, to play this song. This was on New Year's Eve, 1978. After the show, Kooper and The Doobie Brothers, plus a groupie or two, retired for a private party, during which Kooper was introduced to Demerol, which he subsequently fought off an addiction to. On the next day, reeling from the hangover, Kooper got home to his Los Angeles pad just in time to experience - what else but the 1979 Malibu Earthquake!

The song was re-recorded by The Doobie Brothers for the country-tribute album Southbound. The new version features a vocal contribution from Blake Shelton, and Hunter Hayes on guitar. The record is a collection of the band's greatest hits featuring lead and backing vocals from a multitude of country artists as well as former vocalist Michael McDonald.

The Doobie Brothers performed this at the 2014 CMA Awards backed by Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott, Hunter Hayes and Jennifer Nettles below.