ON MY MIND: An Anniversary and the Virus

ELDER MUSIC: Playing For Change

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

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Something a little different today.

PLAYING FOR CHANGE is a movement designed to connect people all over the world through the medium of music. They have organised dozens, maybe hundreds, of people throughout the world to perform, and have filmed and recorded them and put the results on Youtube and their own website.

These are wonderful and I have some of the ones I like best for you today. After seeing the results, I marvel at the editing job someone has done to create these videos.

I had originally selected twice as many as finally made the cut. Any of the omitted ones would have been worthy of inclusion, but I had to be brutal. The whole series is worth searching out – it’s quite easy, and I have included links for you at the bottom of this post.

There are several artists who appear in quite a few of these songs: Roberto, Grandpa, Chaz, Keiko, Mermans. I had fun looking out for the regulars.

My goodness, these are terrific.

Ripple was the first of the Playing for Change songs I discovered. I was a little apprehensive before I played it as I thought the song was the finest moment for the Grateful Dead on record (they weren’t much of a recording band, only two studio albums that are worth more than one or two listens. They were an excellent live band, however).

I was pleasantly surprised at its quality when I played it. There are a few famous musicians along for the ride – it was fun spotting them all. The song was written by regular Dead songwriters, Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter.

La Bamba is a Mexican folk song, originally from Veracruz. It was made famous in the English speaking world when Ritchie Valens had a (posthumous) hit with the song. Many have recorded it over the years, including Los Lobos, a couple of whose members are featured.

Rivers of Babylon is a little different from the other songs today, as there are only three players (Rocky Dawuni, Mermans Mosengo and Jason Tamba with some unseen backup musicians).

It was written and performed originally by the Jamaican group The Melodians, and it was featured prominently in the fine film The Harder They Come.

I imagine you all know this one (sorry about that). It was John Lennon’s most famous and popular song he wrote and performed as a solo performer. John gets a piece of the action in this video.

Bombino (Omara Moctar) is a singer, songwriter and guitarist from Niger. His song translates to “I greet my country”, and he wrote it after being exiled from his country for years after extremists and the country’s leaders (they overlap) tried to ban the guitar (and probably music as well).

Bombino features prominently in the clip which will certainly get your toes a’tapping.

Dock of the Bay was the last song Otis Redding recorded and was a big hit for him, alas, after he died. He wrote the song with his guitarist Steve Cropper, also a member of Booker T and the MGs.

Today’s version was recorded to celebrate 50 years since the original (50 years! Where does the time go?) Included in the clip are Otis’s two sons.

What’s Going On was the name of a song from the album of the same name. It was recorded by Marvin Gaye and was written by Al Cleveland who first sent it to The Four Tops, but they turned it down.

The album turned into a concept album, a song cycle, the first of its kind on Motown Records. Berry Gordy, head of Motown, hated it and didn’t want to release it. It eventually saw light of day and was an immediate critical and popular success that eventually sold squillions.

The song Congo to the Mississippi probably sums up what Playing for Change is all about better than any. It was written by Mermans Mosengo and Greg Johnson. The song is aptly named, as you’ll see.

This isn’t the rather sappy Bobby McFerrin song that was a huge hit some time ago. This one was written by Pierre Minetti especially for the Playing for Change project. Pierre kicks the song off in fine form.

Everyday People was written by Sly Stone and first recorded by Sly and the Family Stone. It’s been covered by a whole bunch of people over the years. Its message fits perfectly with the aims of Playing for Change.

You will notice several famous musicians along the way as well as a few famous non-musicians.

Redemption Song, written by Bob Marley, was released on his album “Uprising”. Bob wrote it after he’d been diagnosed with the cancer that eventually killed him. On the original, Bob sang and played with just an acoustic guitar. He appears in this clip as does as one of his sons, Stephen.

Robbie Robertson wrote The Weight and it was on The Band’s first album “Music From Big Pink”. It was his most Bob Dylan-like song. Robbie is present on this video along with a drummer who looks vaguely familiar.

If you want to find out more about Playing For Change, you can do that at their website. They also have all the videos, although some are blocked unless you become a member. If you prefer to go through Facebook, you can find them here.


Thank you ! Thank you !, Peter, for bringing these marvelous efforts to our attention again.

Many years back I was captivated like a teenage 'fan  girl' when my son sent me a link to the first one I was aware of..."STAND BY ME" with Roger Ridley in Santa Monica, CA. when I was virtually under 'house arrest' taking care of my very sick husband. 

I was new to computers and the internet, it was fascinating they could do these world wide connections.  Grandpa Jones was such a personification of many of my own old relatives in Montana doing the barn dances.  :-)

Your choices are going to make this snowy Sunday a great day for me to enjoy them again. (plus those new to me.) THANK YOU !


The aging brain being what it is at my house, I got a name incorrect. The "grandpa" mentioned should be GRANDPA ELLIOTT. I think he gathered quite a "fan base" of his own after these videos came to be.

Wow, It triggered a sense on togetherness in this fearful and dispair times. THANK you Dear Peter. Best wishes.

Thank you Peter for these selections. We have a couple of DVD's of Playing for Change and view and listen periodically as life becomes weighty. They are all wonderful and bring a feeling of being wrapped in a warm blanket on a dark and frigid night.


Thank you one thousand times, for this heart filling music! Heart dancin' music, it's the BEST!

Sharing it in groups and my feed, thank you to Peter and Ronni for the music of our day

Thank you so much, Peter! My heart is filled with appreciation for this, and for you as well.

Peter, I have listened to many of your Sunday music collections and enjoyed everyone of them. But this collection from Playing For Change was really special, especially at this time of the world's self-isolation due to the coronavirus. These classic songs from musicians all over the world bring us all together. Thank you so much for all the work you do bringing this to us.
Take care,


Brilliant, Peter. Rest assured I'll revisit this post often.

The Best!!! A keeper column: yours always are but this goes to the top of my pile.

Great collection of songs, some I've heard but others not. Thanks!

Worth noting that Playing for Change uses some income to fund music programs for kids. Perhaps it's nonsense, thinking that musicians across the globe can bring about change, but I prefer to believe they can, somehow.

Peter, thank you so much for introducing me to Playing for Change! I will be visiting their website and subscribing to such a great cause.

Awesome!!!! This made me so happy - thank you 😊

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