My friend Neil is a gifted guitarist, and, uhmmm... well; not much of a singer. Not that a silly thing like that would ever deter him, he sings like he wants to and to Hell with you if you don't like it. I admire him for that. He also says the single most liberating experience in becoming someone who can sing regardless of what anyone might think of one's singing ability is busking - simply standing on the street, instrument in hand and singing for passers by who might like what they hear and drop a few coins in the open instrument case. I always, almost without fail, throw a few coins into the open case of hard working buskers. In my book anyone that will stand up and try when it comes to music gets my vote, and my change.

Yesterday, I had a video link forwarded to me that deserves our pocket change. The video was of a bunch of street musicians singing and playing the Sam Cooke tune, "Stand By Me'. A great song, certainly a standard by now, and one of those tunes with a lyric that can find a home in most anyone's life. This version of the tune though was different. This version was put together by Mark Johnson, a filmmaker. Mark's brilliance though is that he was once inspired to do something with an emotion. For him, as he tells it, it all began with the hustle of New York City and two Buddhist Monks singing on the street and captivating both Mark and a lot of passers by. That spark followed Mark through the years, and he eventually found his muse. He would try to bring us all a little closer through music and film. Music from and by musicians from here and there and everywhere on our planet. All of them connecting and sharin' and groovin' and jammin' and bein' free with music.

Mark has succeeded, in fact he has more than succeeded. His web site, 'Playing For Change' ( ) is a culmination of work that began in 1999 and now there's a docu/movie, a foundation, a goal and an audience. Bravo Mark! Good on you and all the others that believe and think and know and feel that music is our most powerful tool in creating a better tomorrow.

Don't believe me? Just try not to feel better about yourself, your neighbor and even our planet as you groove to this:

There's lots of information about 'Playing For Change' on the site, some mutually responsible affiliates, some background about the people and some. quite literally, world class music.

I bet Sam would stand by this one!