The Doobie Brothers' Message in the "Music"

"Listen to the Music"
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Warner Records

On July 1, 1972, The Doobie Brothers released their second studio album, spinning off a single that became the band's first big chart hit.

When the Doobies released their self-titled debut LP in April 1971, they didn’t exactly set the charts on fire, and that’s putting it mildly. Not only did the album fail to crack the Billboard 200, the listenership of the LP’s lone single was summed up perfectly in its title: “Nobody.” Harsh? Maybe a little, but any sting that the band endured from that album’s failure to find record-buying fans was doubtlessly eased by the way Toulouse Street succeeded, and there’s little argument that the success in question came courtesy of a little ditty called “Listen to the Music.”

READ MORE: January 1978: The Doobie Brothers Hit Up 'What's Happening!!'

Doobies guitarist Tom Johnston, who also took lead vocals on the song, has gone on record in the past about how the song was intended to spur world peace by telling people to, well, do what the song says.

“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 bullshit, the world would be a much better place,” Johnston told Ultimate Classic Rock, after which he laughed and admitted, “It was very utopian and very unrealistic...(but) it seemed like a good idea at the time!”

Audiences apparently agreed: “Listen to the Music” promptly began a rise up the Billboard Hot 100, ultimately settling at a high of No. 11.

Better yet, it wasn’t even the album’s only Top 40 hit: a few months later, the Doobies would also end up making their way to No. 35 with the LP’s follow-up single, “Jesus is Just Alright.” Say amen, everybody!

READ MORE: 8 Reasons Why the Doobie Brothers Absolutely Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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(Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
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