Fresh off the buzz of playing NPR’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concert, McDonald has put his own spin on the legendary anti-war song for, according to Rolling Stone, “a very simple project” he’s working on. “It’s uncanny and somewhat amazing how great songs or poems relevant to a specific time frame in which they’re written only seem to grow in their profound resonance with the years,” said McDonald. “‘What’s Going On’ is one of those.”
Backed by local musicians from Santa Barbara, California, McDonald turns the moving soul song into a breezy conversation and places the focus on the keyboard. McDonald may be getting older, but he knows exactly how to preach the immortal words of Gaye to revive the hit for modern times. Who knows, maybe all those Thundercat collaborations are starting to rub off on him. Stream it below.
Maybe this is McDonald’s way of passing time until Doobie Brothers are inducted into the 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class on November 7th, the new induction ceremony date after it was delayed over COVID-19 concerns. The band should be in top shape for the event because they have plenty of dates left on their massive reunion tour scheduled for before then. Grab tickets to all of Michael McDonald’s upcoming concerts here.
Now that you’re already on memory lane, put the pedal to the metal by revisiting Marvin Gaye’s lost 1972 album You’re the Man or by watching his celebrated live performance at Montreux Jazz Festival in 1980. If the coronavirus pandemic stretches on long enough, maybe you can even watch the Marvin Gaye biopic Dr. Dre is working on in a few months, too.