music: questions and comments for Michael Omartian and Rick Beato

Rick Beato has a great interview with Michael Omartian, a funny thoughtful guest who’s a fine producer, arranger, and keyboard player.

At 50:00 Rick references “the SNL skit with Michael McDonald where he was singing on everything at that point.” It was an SCTV skit, not Saturday Night Live. Watch “SCTV 3 Gerry Todd and Michael McDonald“. (Then watch the Yacht Rock web series for more brilliant loving parody of the soft rock/AOR/Steely Dan confluence.)

I Really Didn’t Know about the song

At 51:02 Michael Omartian comments “I think there was another one or two things that he [Michael McDonald] did on that record”
Just one, the excellent “I Really Don’t Know Anymore”. McDonald’s “I really don’t KNOOOW” high note is electric (literally, it cross-fades into Larry Carlton’s desperate-sounding guitar solo), as is the delicious double-tracked harmonizing Michael McDonald does on the third chorus, reminiscent of his incredible “Peg” harmonies about which I blogged. I hope Rick Beato talks with Michael McDonald some day.

It took me years to track down “I Really Don’t Know Anymore.” I remembered the chorus and feel, but not the exact words, and was sure it was a Doobie Brothers recording (I don’t have the Christopher Cross album). One week I was listening to the first 9 Doobie Brothers records and realized it’s not on any of them, which motivated me to search harder and eventually locate it.

I wish Michael Omartian talked about “I Really Don’t Know Anymore” in Rick’s interview. The horns and overall sound are so compressed and claustrophobic until the wistfully uplifting chorus; was he consciously taking advantage of the sound of early digital recording? (Wikipedia: “[Christopher Cross (album)] was one of the first in popular music to be digitally recorded, utilizing the 3M Digital Recording System”). And 81 seconds into the song a great piano chord “escapes” from the constrained mix; I’ve always wondered if that was a happy mistake or planned.

@Rick Beato, @Rick, @hello, hello?!

I made similar comments on the video, but so did 1,793 other people. I wonder would Rick respond to me if I signed up for his Patreon or Discord channel or whatever? I don’t mind paying for access.

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