Sunday, May 31, 2009

Playing for Change

This afternoon I stumbled on some of the most fascinating and moving music videos I've ever seen - products of a project called Playing for Change. The videos were created by a recording engineer named Mark Johnson. Over a four year period, Johnson traveled around the world filming and recording dozens of local musicians performing the same songs. He then edited the performances together, creating a series of "songs around the world" - virtual group performances that are compelling to watch and wonderful to listen to.

Johnson talks about the project in this video clip that also features snippets from the videos of "Stand By Me" and Bob Marley's "War/No More Trouble" and "One Love".

Several of the songs have been released as individual videos on YouTube, Vimeo and the Playing for Change web site. (I've linked to the YouTube versions because they seemed to play smoother - with less delay.) Two of my favorites are embedded below. "Stand By Me" begins with film of Roger Ridley, a street performer in Santa Monica, California who was the original inspiration for the project.

The performance of Bob Marley's "War/No More Trouble" weaves together voices and images from Africa, Ireland, Israel, India and the United States.

As a technical feat alone, these videos would be tremendously impressive. As a vehicle for illustrating the unifying power of music in a divided world, they are tremendously powerful.

Watch, listen. Visit Playing for Change on the web at .


Bert Johnston said...

This is awesome. How'd you ever find it?

Mike Johnston said...

I saw an article in the new "Rolling Stone" magazine about a CD of "Playing for Change" music that has hit the top 10 charts. A quick Google search took me to their web site and to the YouTube videos.