Michael McDonald, David Hidalgo and Willie Nelson have teamed up to release a new cover of Randy Sharp and Jack Wesley Routh’s “Dreams of the San Joaquin.” Proceeds from the single will benefit the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), and the United Farm Workers of America.
The peaceful track begins with beachy guitar and gentle, deep vocals uttering, “I’m sending you some money / I wish it could be more / But it’s harder than I thought / To find the work I came here for.” The song depicts the tale of a field worker at the San Joaquin Valley during the Great Depression. The track continues with solemn guitar in a melancholy tone, until the hope shines through the vocals with the description of “Our dreams of the San Joaquin.” McDonald and Nelson take turns singing the lyrics, with glorious moments where their voices collide in harmony to form swaying and peaceful moments. The song grows in hopefulness throughout its entirety.
McDonald shared his reasoning between the original meaning of the song and its connection to modern events, saying, “The migrant farm worker is as responsible if not more for maintaining our country’s position as one of the largest agricultural economies in the world…The labor that falls squarely on their shoulders allows farmers to bring produce to our stores and food to our tables as reasonably priced as possible. COVID has ravaged this quadrant of the American workforce disproportionately.”
The track is released exclusively through Bandcamp, on the same day as Bandcamp’s Fee-Free Fridays, where the company waives its percentage of profits from artists’ music.
McDonald was supposed to reunite with the Doobie Brothers for a 50th anniversary tour in 2020 before the pandemic put most tours to a halt.
UPDATE (5/27): Michael McDonald, Willie Nelson and David Hidalgo have released a video for their cover of the classic song “Dreams of the San Joaquin.” The video features the artists performing the cover track alongside a montage of Depression-era photos depicting America’s heartland.
Photo Credit: Owen Ela