There are different schools of thought about the awarding of a Most Valuable Player in any sport. Some think the MVP should go to the “best” player. Some think it should only be awarded to a player who led his or her team to the playoffs. Some believe there are cases where the MVP can come from a team that didn’t make the postseason, provided that the player accounted for an inordinately large percentage of the team’s relative success. I’m going to apply this last line of thinking to what I consider Rock’s Most Valuable Drum Part (MVDP) of its time, Steve Gadd‘s distinctive, highly technical march rhythm that is the key to the success of Paul Simon‘s catchy but otherwise slight “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”.
It’s hard to break down how much the success of that song depends on Gadd’s part, but I’m willing to say that it accounts for 70% of the song’s success. The “make a new plan Stan” lyrical device accounts for most of the rest of the appeal of the song, say 25%, with Simon’s delivery and the bass guitar accounting for the remaining 5%. That’s a lot of weight supported by a drum beat!