“All of a sudden, yacht rock is cool!” Michael McDonald's back with first album of original material in 17 years

Credit: Timothy WhiteToday, Michael McDonald releases Wide Open, his first new album of original material in 17 years. His last three albums were covers of classic Motown and soul songs, so when it came to writing new songs, he felt a little insecure — because those old songs are so good.

“I think with any project that you do as a songwriter, in the back of your mind, you’re going, ‘Are these songs really up to speed…are they up to par? Are they relevant?'” he tells ABC Radio. “All those questions are constantly gnawing away at you.”

Luckily, McDonald is returning with new music at a time when his solo hits, and those he made with The Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan, are experiencing a resurgence as part of the now-popular “yacht rock” genre.

“It takes on different perspectives with time,” Michael says of music. “I think if it has a certain earnest effort to begin with, it will find its audience through the decades.” 

He adds with a laugh, “I enjoy that idea that all of a sudden, yacht rock is cool. It’s like, ‘Who would have thought?'”

McDonald, who at 65 is now touring in support of Wide Open, says the album title is “kind of a metaphor for what it feels like to live this long and [still want to] pursue some avenue of expressing yourself.”

He explains, “I don’t think I counted on the fact that I’d live this long…When I was 35, I thought when you’re 65, you’re happy to be in your golf cart, going to the coffee shop…and then going home and taking a nap!”

He adds, laughing, “In some ways, I am that guy…But I still wanna rock, y’know?”

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