By: Jaime Lutz
In honor of Playing For Change’s newly-released third album, PFC3: Songs Around The World, we’ve put together a track list of ten amazing Playing For Change songs that truly deserve the (usually insultingly vague) classification of World Music and exemplify the amazing body of work they’ve created over the years.
If this is your first time hearing about Playing For Change and you’re not sure what the fuss is all about, imagine yourself listening to a musician on a street corner who is way too talented to perform for free. That was Mark Johnson’s experience in 2005. Mark heard a man named Roger Ridley sing “Stand By Me” in Santa Monica. Johnson was so moved by the troubadour’s voice that he asked “With a voice like yours, why are you singing in the streets?”
“Man, I’m in the joy business,” Ridley replied. “I come out to be with the people.”
This week, Playing For Change takes the joy business online as “Songs Around The World” meets fans around the world for the first time. Please join them for a series of interactive live video performances on Wizeo, the second of which will be streamed from Barcelona this Friday, July 18th and third from Austria on Saturday, July 26th. Check out a video from the first performance PFC Band members did live from San Francisco on July 10th.
Led by French sensation Manu Chao, this reggae-Latin jam features artists from five continents; everything but Antarctica and Oceania.
2. Stand By Me
The song that started it all. Totally stunning.
3. What’s Going On
Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” took years to cover, but the final result, featuring Sara Bareilles, is something special.
4. What a Wonderful World
It’s a “What a Wonderful World” sung by children’s choirs. Come on, you like this one before you even hit play.
5. Gimme Shelter
The Rolling Stones’ counter-culture anthem takes a bluesy, swampy turn on this inspired cover.
6. Teach Your Children
You might want to cut onions before you play this one; you know, in order to save face.
7. (Sittin’ On) The Dock of The Bay
This video begins with Roger Ridley in a live, street-side performance. I’m charmed by the way he thanks everyone who gives him a tip, and how his voice is so remarkably similar to Otis Redding’s, the original singer of this classic.
This original, by Congolese musician Christian Baklanga, is mesmerizing, and accompanied by nothing more than his guitar.
Another, highly danceable original by Playing For Change.
10. Groove in G
This one’s really cool - Playing for Change went around the world and asked musicians to play a blues groove in the key of G. The end result is an original composition, written by composers hundreds of miles apart.