Wow, this is groovy: Questlove breaking down the rhythm tracks of the original multitrack studio recordings of Marvin Gaye’s single “What’s Going On.”
“What’s so cool about it is that this is one of the most undefined drum songs of soul music. I don’t think of drums when I think of ‘What’s Going On.” I think of the conga, but I always felt like it was a ritual syncopated…
I always wondered though why didn’t they just bring the… like, it could’ve been a whole different song had the drums just been the force of it, but I guess that would’ve taken away from it.
And here Questlove discusses how he thinks of “What’s Going On” as a winter song and marvels at the perfection of its “crude harmonies”:
Then they break down how the single was recorded nine months prior to the release of the album, the piano being used as a percussion line, and the “infamous football players”:
(Big thanks to Mikel Ellcessor of WDET to turning me on to this.)