Regular readers of this here online journal will know that I (Schuyler Dunlap) am a huge Billy Preston fan. Beyond my preference for music that rides that gospel/soul edge (right between sacred and secular, so you don’t know if that “she” the singer’s in love with is a person or a metaphor, where that “God” might mean something biblical or something more personal) and my once and future infatuation with all things Beatles, I find the late Mr. Preston a very capable songwriter, singer and musician.
Did I say capable? I meant to say transcendent. So, imagine my surprise when I turned on PBS’ Soundstage to discover Billy behind a keyboard, seated next to the man with the bearded voice.
That’s right: Michael McDonald himself.
I believe this to be the second of two Soundstage performances for the former Doobie Brother. Now, Mr. McDonald is a hero of Daddy Wrall’s and all of us at Miss Fairchild have a soft spot for him. It is often repeated that Sunday’s are for listening to Michael (and Larry Graham, too, but that’s it).
I still can’t, for the life of me, figure how he can sing the way he does without using his falsetto. His tone and timbre are unique and unbelievable and nearly inimitable (including the hilarious SNL sketch about the man.)
He had a great moment when he was introducing Billy where he went on about the Legends of the music industry and “many of us would like to think that we’re legends… not me, of course… but this man truly is one.”
The crowd disagreed with his self-assessment and I would side with them more quickly than with him. A singular musical voice (quite literally) throughout his career, Michael McDonald deserves any and all acolades. And any opportunities to see Billy Preston perform are special now that he’s gone. He usually crops up like this, unexpected, often uncredited, but always welcome and essential to the end result.
We (Miss Fairchild) often speculate on impossible supergroups (I’ll post some lineups on here sometime) that we’d like to see- some matchups that are so appropriate they are cliche, others so strange they would require explanation. Some include only living artists, others only ghosts.
Apparently, some of these supergroups are a little less impossible than we thought.