July 26, 2009

Playing for Change

I challenge you to watch the video below and not feel that change is possible. I've viewed it several times since I first saw it on Bill Moyers Journal last fall, and every time I do, I get all choked up.

I urge you to visit the Playing for Change website and take a look, and a listen, at what's being done. While you're at it, think about supporting their mission! The CD/DVD combo, Playing for Change: Songs around the World, is lovely, and cheap enough so that you can buy one for yourself, and another for a friend, your local public library, or the music department at your local high school.

Bill Moyers interviewed Mark Johnson, the creator of the Playing for Change project, I thought you'd like to hear how he got started:
MARK JOHNSON: The idea came about ten years ago, here in New York City. I was in a subway station on my way to work. You know, every day in the subway, people are just running around like crazy to get wherever they have to go.

BILL MOYERS: Oh, tell me about it.

MARK JOHNSON: But this particular day, I was in the subway and I heard these two monks playing music. And they were painted head to toe, all in white, wearing robes. And one of them was playing a nylon guitar and the other one was singing in a language that I didn't understand and I imagine most people didn't understand.

BILL MOYERS: Everybody was just standing around. I've done that. Yeah.

MARK JOHNSON: You know, there were about 200 people just stopped. Didn't get on the train and started watching this music. And I looked around and I saw people with tears in their eyes. And I saw jaw dropping. And I just saw this collection. And it occurred to me that here is a group of people that would normally run by each other. And here they are, collectively coming together. And it's the music that brought them together.

So it really inspired me. And it occurred to me that when there's no separation between music and people, when music is just happening and people can walk by and it can affect them, that this is an opportunity for us to really find a way to bring people together.

I'm from the Woodstock generation, one of those quarter million who attended the first festival 40 years ago next month (I still have my ticket--$18 for a three-day pass!), so I believe that there can be peace and music. But, I'm also a realist and I know that peace--through music or otherwise--is something that has be worked on CONSTANTLY! I'll close with a few more words from Mark Johnson:
But at the end of the day, there's also so much hope because I can assure you, all over the world, people are beautiful and they want to unite together.

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