I don’t know why me or my friends had the right to call anything or anyone candy-ass since we were ourselves the living and prancing urban dictionary definitions of candy-asses ourselves—neatness was our most rebellious trait, shiny shoes our superpower—but we did, we slung the word around big-time. Especially when it came to soft, classic rock. In an era which still valorized, even demanded, ritualistic displays of masculine strength, making fun of 70s soft rock was one of the few ways fey and frail young men like me, could score cheap points by beating up on easy targets. I made fun of the Doobie Brothers ruthlessly. To the face of Doobie fans. I said that the Doobies were candy-asses, so desperate was I that something, anything really, be just a teeny bit more candy-assed than me. As if that was possible.
I made fun of the Doobie Brothers even though I had never heard the Doobie Brothers--at least not knowing that I was hearing the Doobie Brothers. Oh sure, like anyone who has ever been trapped in a taxi, pressed against the back of a crowded, post-lunch elevator, or otherwise been exposed to broadcast radio in North America during the years 1973 to 2019, I had, of course, heard “China Grove”, at least 85 times without having the slightest idea what that fucking song was about or why I always kept having to hear it. I don’t even really hate that song: it’s not the band’s fault that classic rock radio programmers lack imagination and it’s the radio I hate not the bands trapped by it. I know why I made fun of the Doobie Brothers. I was young and ignorant and insecure. I made fun of everything I didn’t understand. Since I understood nothing, I made fun of everything.
The Doobie Brothers' Stampede (Warner Bros., 1973) is a thoroughly enjoyable rock record, with one of my favourite country-themed album covers of the era. I hesitate to critique the record at all. I like it. I play it pretty often. I was an annoying kid, insufferable in all the worst ways. I am hoping to atone for this, somewhat, by posting my SECOND Doobie Brothers video this week: that’s how you show the universe you mean business. The last two minutes of "I Cheat The Hangman," the best song on this record, intense jam, that's how you prove your detractors wrong.