Denny Doherty

Waiting for a Song

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After a lackadaisical country-rock album in 1971 and a Mamas & the Papas contract-fulfilling reunion disc later that year, Denny Doherty laid low for a couple years before issuing this obscure effort. Waiting for a Song is a rather depressing record, Doherty being mired in melancholia more or less from beginning to end. The title of "Give Me Back That Old Familiar Feeling," paired with the album's title, provide the intertwined recurring lyrical themes: Doherty as the lost artist looking for a song to sing and a reason to live -- the concepts becoming interchangeable after a while -- and continually looking to the past for fear of looking forward. This motif is underscored by the presence of his former bandmates, Cass Elliot and Michelle Phillips, on backing vocals throughout the record. Their harmonizing voices are in fine form, but the arrangements are far less novel than those from the group's heyday, and Doherty doesn't hit notes as brightly with his tenor as he once did. Less-than-stunning material and poor distribution rendered this album an instant obscurity, though collectors and Doherty fans were delighted by its reissue on the Varese Vintage imprint in 2001. In hindsight, the record is remarkable for its naked honesty, Doherty making little secret, either in the tunes or in the liner photos, of how much of a wreck he is, but on its own merits, Waiting for a Song is too much of a buzzkill to tout unreservedly. Highlights include the minor AC hit "You'll Never Know" and the Larry Weiss-penned ballad "Lay Me Down (Roll Me Out to Sea)."

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