The pleasure of being stuck on the Tarmac at O’Hare International is having the time to read some of my favorite mags (along with watching old Entourage episodes). As serendipity would have it, it was Burkhard Bilger’s profile — no, his portraiture — of Questlove, the ambitious bandleader and drummer for the Roots, in The New Yorker I most unexpectedly dug. A few weeks earlier my colleague, Stefn’i Bell, across the cubicle aisle said that she was going to “stop following Questlove on Twitter” because he’s so active on it. I hadn’t even heard his name before so I had no clue whom she was talking about, despite watching him on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon so many times.
After reading the piece, you can’t help but have a deep admiration for the musician and the man. Two days later? A video of Questlove in studio listening to and breaking down the original multitrack recordings of Marvin Gaye’s single “What’s Going On” is showing up in my Facebook feed.
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.)
Marvin Gaye Sings National Anthem at 1983 NBA All-Star Game
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Do I wish this man was still with us! There’s no singer quite like him. The crowd just swoons at his rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and one can’t help but feel a bit patriotic after hearing this.
Happy Memorial Day to all.
(A heartfelt hat tip to thecarolynblog for this gem.)