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Watch Michael McDonald, Jimmy Fallon, and Justin Timberlake Harmonize on a Kids' Song

Think the trio can't Michael McDonald-ify "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"? That's "What A Fool Believes"!

By Samantha Vincenty

Michael McDonald is many things: A smooth-voiced solo artist, longtime member of the Doobie Brothers, former Steely Dan backup singer, and all-around yacht rock icon. As of May 2024, he's also a memoirist, releasing a book called — what else? — What a Fool Believes. 

How to Watch

Watch The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on NBC weeknights at 11:35/10:35c and next day on Peacock

McDonald visited The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on May 20 to discuss his new book about his life as a musician, joined by his co-writer, Paul Reiser (yes, the actor Paul Reiser, from Stranger Things, Mad About You, and Beverly Hills Cop). Host Jimmy Fallon is a big Michael McDonald fan, and the latest visit marks McDonald's fifth time on the show. But the singer's career-encapsulating new book has us fondly remembering another Michael McDonald moment from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. 

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Michael McDonald, Justin Timberlake and host Jimmy Fallon during a skit on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon on March 13, 2013.

When Michael McDonald, Jimmy Fallon, and Justin Timberlake played "Row Your Boat' as Three Michael McDonalds

McDonald's baritone is a national treasure, and as this March 13, 2013 sketch proves, his voice is often imitated but never duplicated. 

In "Three Michael McDonalds Sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," a white-haired, bearded man kicks things off with some opening bars, standing behind a keyboard. But look closer, and you'll find it's not McDonald, but Fallon coming in with an excellent impression of the singer. 

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Next, the audience reacts as a second Michael McDonald takes the spotlight — Justin Timberlake, who's also been McDonald-ified, with an impersonation almost as good as Fallon's.

But when the actual Michael McDonald joins the round, and The Roots launch into some jazzy, "Takin' It to the Streets"-style backing music, it's clear there's nothing like the real thing. 

"If you row it, if you row it / Sometimes you gotta show it," McDonald, Fallon, and Timberlake sing in rich harmony (we don't remember this extra lyric?). 

Watch "Three Michael McDonalds Sing 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat'" above, and don't miss Michael McDonald on The Tonight Show at 11:35/10:35c on NBC, streaming the next day on Peacock.