The five-time Grammy Award–winning singer, songwriter, and keyboardist, who has lived the American rock ’n’ roll dream as an erstwhile member of Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, is a true master of collaboration and cross-genre experimentation. Along with releasing 12 solo albums, he has worked with everyone from Aretha Franklin and Joni Mitchell to Thundercat and Van Halen. In 2019, the Doobies asked McDonald if he’d join for a 50th-anniversary tour, which was delayed until 2022 due to the pandemic. “It was an easy yes for me,” says McDonald, who will embark with the band on the Australian leg in April. “It was always fun playing with the Doobies, and it’s a great group of people,” he continues. “We learned early on that the most important part of our musical endeavor was our friendships with each other.” For this issue, McDonald curated a joyful, nostalgic playlist of songs, choosing ones he says remind him of “happier times when I was younger and life was there for the taking.” Along with Etta James’s “At Last,” it includes Stevie Wonder’s “epic performance” of “For Once in My Life” as well as the Rascals’ “A Beautiful Morning.” “It’s a song about the joy of living,” McDonald says of the last track, “and always brings a smile to my face.”
Listen to Michael McDonald’s playlist exclusively on Apple Music.