What a Fool Believes: A Memoir (Hardcover)

What a Fool Believes: A Memoir By Michael McDonald, Paul Reiser Cover Image
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* INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER *

A sweeping and evocative memoir from the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, Grammy Award–winning, platinum selling singer-songwriter Michael McDonald, written with his friend, Emmy Award–nominated actor, comedian, and #1 New York Times bestselling author Paul Reiser.

Doobie Brothers. Steely Dan. Chart topping soloist. Across a half-century of American music, Michael McDonald’s unmistakably smooth baritone voice defined an era of rock and R&B with hit records like “What A Fool Believes,” “Takin’ It to the Streets,” “I Keep Forgettin’,” “Peg,” “It Keeps You Running,” “You Belong to Me,” and “Yah Mo B There.”

In his candid, freewheeling memoir, written with his friend, the Emmy Award-nominated actor and comedian Paul Reiser, Michael tells the story of his life and music. A high school dropout from Ferguson, Missouri, Michael chased his dreams in 1970’s California, a heady moment of rock opportunity and excess. As a rising session musician and backing vocalist, a series of encounters would send him on a wild ride around the world and to the heights of rock stardom—from joining Steely Dan and becoming a defining member of The Doobie Brothers to forging a path as a breakout solo R&B artist.

Interwoven with the unforgettable tales of the music, Michael tells a deeply affecting story of losing and finding himself as a man. He reckons with the unshakeable insecurities that drove him, the drug and alcohol addictions that plagued him, and the highs and lows of popularity. Along the way he relays the lessons he’s learned, and that if he’s learned anything at all it’s that there’s often little correlation between what you get and what you deserve.

Filled with unbelievable stories and a matchless cast of music greats including James Taylor, Ray Charles, Carly Simon, and Quincy Jones, What a Fool Believes is a moving and entertaining memoir that is sure to be a classic. 

About the Author


Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Michael McDonald’s career encompasses five Grammys, countless platinum hits, and chart successes. After being an integral part of Steely Dan, McDonald was invited to join the Doobie Brothers as the band redefined their sound with McDonald serving as singer, keyboardist, and songwriter on numerous Top 40 singles. Throughout the ’80s and ’90s McDonald’s solo career took off with a string of hits including “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near),” “Sweet Freedom,” “On My Own” (with Patti LaBelle), and the Grammy-winning James Ingram duet “Yah Mo B There.” McDonald has performed with a who’s-who of critically acclaimed artists, including Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne, Vince Gill, Grizzly Bear, Thundercat, and Solange Knowles.




Paul Reiser is a comedian, Emmy Award–nominated actor, screenwriter, and #1 New York Times bestselling author. Reiser has recently appeared in Netflix’s Stranger Things and The Kominsky Method as well as Hulu’s critically acclaimed comedy Reboot and Amazon’s The Boys. Reiser created and starred (along with Helen Hunt) in the long-running hit 90s comedy Mad About You and has appeared in classic films like Diner, Aliens, the Beverly Hills Cop franchise, and Whiplash. His latest film The Problem With People, which he wrote, starred in, and produced, is slated to be in theaters early 2024. As an author, Reiser’s New York Times bestselling books CouplehoodBabyhood, and Familyhood have sold millions of copies.

Praise For…


“The singer and songwriter with a silky-smooth voice has written a memoir with Paul Reiser that recounts his story of pain and redemption with dashes of humor...the more you read and think and listen, the more his voice seems like a connecting thread running through America’s popular-music tapestry that, if pulled, might unravel the whole thing — or at least, leave a significant, unmendable hole.” — New York Times

“A living link to a lost era of pop … the best sections in the book see the singer wrestling with his demons … Here he adds new depth to his avuncular public image.” — The New York Times, audiobook review

“Unvarnished and humble...the portrait of a remarkable singer-songwriter who had career highs and terrible lows, who battled alcoholism and self-doubt, endured popularity, mocking and then rejuvenation.” — Associated Press

“For all its surface smoothness, yacht rock — and the artists who created it over the last few decades — can be turbulent below deck...As he reveals in his new memoir, no one encompasses that dichotomy quite like Michael McDonald. That gently huffing mellow voice and electric piano often hid a wild lifestyle, at least during his early, pre-sober days in the music business when he was a member of Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers.” — Rolling Stone

What a Fool Believes, which was co-written by McDonald's longtime friend and actor Paul Reiser, tells McDonald's life story from first stepping up to the mic as a child to working with idols like Ray Charles and Patti LaBelle — and of course, the Doobie Brothers. It also sees McDonald getting vulnerable like never before as he recounts his wife's breast cancer diagnosis and journey with addiction.” — People

“The book, which he co-wrote with Paul Reiser—yes, the Paul Reiser—isn’t your typical “Yeah, we trashed a few hotel rooms and banged some groupies, but then things changed” kind of rock-star autobiography. It’s deeper than that, more honest, light on the bravado.” — GQ

“What do you get when you combine a 1970s music legend, a 1990s sitcom star and a global pandemic? Michael McDonald’s memoir, obviously...What a Fool Believes is oddly difficult to classify, standing out somewhat from the deluge of celebrity memoirs. It’s a little bit of everything: an addiction memoir, a career retrospective, a series of funny rock-and-roll vignettes, a rumination on family...vulnerable and honest.” — Washington Post

“Candid...What a Fool Believes reveals McDonald’s career highs—like joining Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers—and personal lows, including his battles with drug and alcohol addiction.” — AARP

“An honest, revealing telling of [McDonald's] life, career and journey to sobriety.” — WGN

“He possesses one of the most recognizable voices in Classic Rock. A voice that stretches from a rich, buttery and slightly grizzly baritone to a piercing howl of a tenor...But what even his fans probably don’t know are the ups and downs of his life in more detail. That changes with the publication of his autobiography, What A Fool Believes...A revealing read, and has a conversational, easy tone that goes down as easily to the reading eyes as McDonald’s voice does to the listening ears.” — Houston Press

“Like its namesake song, McDonald’s memoir is refreshingly self-deprecating and, at its core, an underdog’s triumph.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Singer and songwriter Michael McDonald debuts with an affecting account of his early life, career trajectory, and struggles with addiction. . . . McDonald’s down-to-earth approach gives this rock and roll tell-all more weight than others of its kind.” — Publishers Weekly

“Yacht rock has many big names, but none have made their presence felt across the genre more than McDonald. As a solo artist, member of the Doobie Brothers and backing vocalist on dozens of classics, McDonald’s uniquely soulful voice is practically a signature on a song...[What A Fool Believes] is an engaging story that readers of music bios will enjoy. McDonald’s musical journey as a backing singer, a side musician, and a front man is fascinating because it is different from that of many other pop/rock stars.”—Library Journal — Library Journal

“Michael McDonald is one of the most gifted musicians of our time. Over the last half century, his incredible talents have placed him in the eye of the musical hurricane and this vivid memoir brings it all to life. What a Fool Believes is essential reading for every music fan.” — Don Was

“Michael is the type of artist you are lucky to have in your lifetime. His voice has been one of the biggest inspirations in my development as a songwriter and singer. A very sweet and awesome person—the most Doobiest of brothers. It makes my day better knowing that somewhere in the world Michael McDonald is pondering what comes next.” — Thundercat

“Working with Michael on my first album, “Be Here Soon” was a dream come true. Not only did he bring his talent, creativity, and soul to our project, but his love and generosity of spirit was limitless. He’s a wonderful friend, an incredible musician, and a beautiful human being.” — Jeff Bridges



Product Details
ISBN: 9780063357563
ISBN-10: 0063357569
Publisher: Dey Street Books
Publication Date: May 21st, 2024
Pages: 336
Language: English