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Playing for Change

December 6, 2008

Tonight I stumbled across a Bill Moyers interview on Vermont Public Television with Mark Johnson, the creator of Playing for Change. The first thing I saw was video of a street musician playing “Stand By Me” on his guitar and singing. The music continued as the video changed to a completely different street musician, just singing, accompanied now by the most chill washboard player ever. And you could hear the way-chill washboard in the music. Then it went to another musician in a different location. And on and on it went from South Africa to France to Venezuela to The Netherlands to New Orleans, etc….. The song kept building, because the music of the people from around the world had all been added together. Basically the guy recorded the first musician and then he brought that recording (and microphones and camera) all around the world so the people playing are in their own little worlds, listing to the original street musician through big headphones and playing/singing along with him. It is unreal the emotions it draws out of you. This is the real world at its best.

Mark, the guy behind it all, said the whole point is to show how music can bring people together. In this one video, in this one song, you have many different countries, many different colors, many different economic societies, many different religions…all down with singing that same, one, beautiful song. That’s what I liked most about it, I guess. The music speaks, the people all give in to the lyrics, the groove, the tune. It is beautiful. It simply shows how music can and does connect the world.

It made me want to run out and play the drums tonight in my garage. It made me want to pick up the tenor sax again (last played in 6th grade). It made me want to do alot of things, but most of all it made me want to listen to the song and to get back to work on my novel. I’m not sure why it pointed me in that direction, but who am I to question inspiration? The music tells me to write, and so I write.

It was all so good, it made me wonder if “Stand By Me” has taken over “Thunder Road” and “Here Comes the Sun” as my favorite song. That’s a tall order. Maybe it just joined them up on top.

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