Sweet Freedom Michael McDonald

Sweet Freedom by Michael McDonald

When my wife and I bought our own first house, we lived next door to a young man with mental health issues. I quickly earned his dislike by calling the police on the first day after we moved in – there were shouts of “put down that knife”, and I think any reasonable person would have done the same thing. But he didn’t enjoy being taken away in a police car, and after that point he was hostile towards me.

Sometimes he did quirky things, like leaving objects in our letterbox or throwing things over the fence. Sometimes when he’d been drinking he’d shout out expletive ridden statements in the middle of the night. And once, possibly worst of all, he played Michael McDonald’s cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘For Once In My Life’ on repeat for an entire hour. Even through a couple of walls, it was at a louder than comfortable listening volume, and he played it right at the end of the evening, just after we’d turned the lights off for the night.

I’m always a little puzzled by McDonald – his husky blue-eyed soul voice is unique and expressive, and he can write some great jazzy chord changes. But I find a lot of his music too close to adult-contemporary mush for my liking. When I was a teenager I owned a Doobie Brothers’ compilation; there was one superlative Michael McDonald song, ‘What A Fool Believes’, but I found all his other contributions unspeakably dull. It wasn’t until I discovered the Yacht Rock web series (if you haven’t already seen it, I’ve posted episode 1 for your convenience…….)

…that I discovered another Michael McDonald gem; ‘Sweet Freedom’ from the 1985 movie Running Scared. It might be a little dated, but it uses McDonald’s voice well.


  1. I would venture to say that any occasion wherein someone says, “put down that knife,” is, at best, suboptimal. I guess if the worst thing that happened is that he blasted McDonald songs your way, that’s a good thing. I’m neither a fan of McDonald’s nor not a fan. But Steely Dan used him on every album from “Katy Lied” on. That’s him wailing away at the end of ‘Kid Charlemagne.’

  2. Sorry to hear about your neighbour. I had to move because of stress from noise and have sworn to never live in a flat again. Thankfully I have now found a quieter place.
    This year, I went through Doobie Br discography, I shall give Yacht Rock series a try, thanks for bringing to my attention. When the mood is right, I will give McDonald’s solo work a go. Sweet Freedom is a great song.

    • It’s fine – it’s funny now. It only cropped up every few months, I was never harmed, and it made for some good stories; you have to remember that you’re dealing with someone with a mental illness.

      I totally recommend Yacht Rock – has some pretty funny plot-lines based on music trivia. Michael Jackson as a sex-crazed maniac and Hall and Oates as antagonists are hilarious.

      I haven’t heard any McDonald songs I really like except ‘What A Fool’ and ‘Sweet Freedom’- let me know if you find any.

  3. I’m not at all familiar with this chap, though I’m aware of that mush you refer to here (why anyone would choose to cover that is beyond me).

    Anyhoo, I hope things with your neighbour didn’t escalate beyond dreadful music and being a bit of a nuisance.

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