Here's the great thing about pop music: Even when it's not transcendent, or particularly creative or insightful or even, well, decent, it can still hit the spot. At least for me. This may fall under the "too much information" department, but there may have been a time or two when, driving down a lonely road late at night, a certain "Straight From the Heart" by Bryan Adams came on my radio and the station did not change. I'm not confirming that or anything; just passing on some unsubstantiated information that may or may not be true. And it's possible that as the song wound down, someone in my car was singing: "You know I'll never go/As long as I know/It's coming straight from the heart." I can't defend that song. I realize that, like most Bryan Adams songs, its very title is a cliché. ("Cuts Like a Knife," anyone?) But it can still hit the spot when the time and situation demand it.
The same goes for the Doobie Brothers, a remarkably pedestrian band that has crafted some of the best restaurant patio songs in the history of this relatively unheralded genre. Every good Doobie Brothers song begins the same way: a simple, relaxing guitar riff, interrupted by a drum fill-in you could play with one arm, followed by an amplification of earlier guitar riff that lets you know the good times are coming. I know they didn't exactly invent that formula, but they certainly mastered itand if you're having a few beers at the Ginger Man and "Listen to the Music" comes on, you will find this development to be a very good thing. Same goes for "China Grove." ("What a Fool Believes"? Not so much.)