~~July 2, 2014~~
Playing for Change is a multimedia music project, created by the American producer and sound engineer Mark Johnson with his Timeless Media Group, that seeks to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music. Playing For Change also created a separate non-profit organization called the Playing For Change Foundation, which builds music schools for children around the world.
Playing for Change hit it out of the park this time. This is a very well known song in the Latin community. Its origins are in the island of Cuba. There isn’t a citizen of Latin America who doesn’t know the verses, the music and the meaning of this song.
~~THERE’S THE CHILL FACTOR~~
Playing For Change was born in 2002 as a shared vision between co-founders, Mark Johnson and Whitney Kroenke, to hit the streets of America with a mobile recording studio and cameras in search of inspiration and the heartbeat of the people. Producers Mark Johnson and Enzo Buono, traveled around the world to places including New Orleans, Barcelona, South Africa, India, Nepal, the Middle East and Ireland.
Using mobile recording equipment, the duo recorded local musicians performing the same song, interpreted in their own style. Among the artists participating or openly involved in the project are Vusi Mahlasela, Louis Mhlanga, Clarence Bekker, Tal Ben Ari (Tula), Bono, Keb’ Mo’, David Broza, Manu Chao and Grandpa Elliott. This musical journey resulted in the award-winning documentary, “A Cinematic Discovery of Street Musicians.”
“Guantanamera” (Spanish: “from Guantánamo [feminine]”, thus “the one from Guantánamo“) is perhaps the best known Cuban song and that country’s most noted patriotic song.
In 1966, a version by American vocal group The Sandpipers, based on an arrangement by Pete Seeger, became an international hit.
The music for the song is sometimes attributed to José Fernández Diaz, known as Joseíto Fernández, who claimed to have written it at various dates (consensus puts 1929 as its year of origin), and who used it regularly in one of his radio programs. Some claim that the song’s structure actually came from Herminio “El Diablo” García Wilson, who could be credited as a co-composer. García’s heirs took the matter to court decades later but lost the case: the Supreme Court of Cuba credited Fernández as the sole composer of the music in 1993. Regardless of either claim, Fernández can safely be claimed as being the first public promoter of the song, through his radio programs.
~~Original lyrics and José Fernández~~
The lyrics to the song, as written by José Fernández, are about a woman from Guantánamo, with whom he had a romantic relationship, and who eventually left him. The alleged real story behind these lyrics (or at least one of many versions of the song’s origin that Fernández suggested during his lifetime) is that she did not have a romantic interest in him, but merely a platonic one. If the details are to be believed, she had brought him a steak sandwich one day as a present to the radio station where he worked. He stared at some other woman (and attempted to flirt with her) while eating the sandwich, and his friend yanked it out of his hands in disgust, cursed him and left.
He never saw her again. These words are rarely sung today.
Another history behind the chorus and its lyrics (“Guantanamera/Guajira Guantanamera …”) is similar: García claimed he was at a street corner with a group of friends and made a courteous pass (a polite pick-up line, like “your mother made you good” or “you came from a star”, piropo in Spanish) to a woman (who also happened to be from Guantánamo) who walked by the group.
She answered back rather harshly, offended by the pass. Stunned, he could not take his mind off her reaction while his friends made fun of him; later that day, sitting at a piano with his friends near him, he wrote the song’s main refrain.
~~Playing For Change – Guantanamera~~
~~Published on Jul 1, 2014~~
We invite you to watch and enjoy another Song Around The World from our new album: “Guantanamera“.
We started the song with Carlos Varela in Havana and it features over 75 Cuban musicians around the world, from Havana and Santiago to Miami, Barcelona and Tokyo. We recorded and produced this track with Jackson Browne, who explains that “traveling with Playing For Change across Cuba was one of the most rewarding and inspiring musical experiences of my life.”
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