“Minute by Minute” is a song written by Michael McDonald and Lester Abrams….which was originally released by the Doobie Brothers on their 1978 album Minute by Minute….as the single was released in April 1979….which debuted at # 67 and eventually reaching # 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart….and It was nominated for a Grammy Award for Song of the Year….but lost out to the Doobie Brothers’ own “What a Fool Believes”. It has since been covered by other artists, including The Temptations, Larry Carlton, Stanley Clarke, Peabo Bryson, Kim Pensyl, Helen Reddy, Bobby Lyle and Rick Janus
AllMusic critic Matthew Greenwald describes “Minute by Minute” as one of the songs that reflects the Doobie Brothers’ transformation to “a light, soul-oriented outfit”….as keyboards are more prominent in the song than in some of the Doobie Brothers’ earlier hits…..while Greenwald praises the “simple and literate” lyrics….and notes possible influence from Booker T. & the M.G.’s in the music. In their book Inside the Hits, authors Wayne Wadhams (The Fifth Estate), David Nathan and Susan Lindsay describe the tempo as a “medium shuffle”…..while AXS contributor Bill Craig describes the song as a soulful, mid-tempo, piano-driven song that he compares to Motown songs….and The New Rolling Stone Album Guide praises McDonald’s “suave vocal mastery” on the song…..plus,Spin‘s Rich Stim describes the sound of the song as “phlegmatic”. Co-writer Michael McDonald was surprised by the song’s success after a friend had told him that the song “just doesn’t have it”….and Craig rated it as the Doobie Brothers’ 6th greatest song.
As seen in this video herewith….the Doobie Brothers perform “Minute By Minute” at their live 1983 farewell concert….which features Michael McDonald on the keyboard and vocals.