Maybe you know about Playing for Change. “PFC is a movement created to inspire and connect the world through music. The idea for this project came from a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. Creating Songs Around the World inspired us to unite many of the greatest musicians we met throughout our journey in the creation of the Playing For Change Band. These musicians come from many different countries and cultures, but through music they speak the same language.”

Two examples (put on earphones or good speakers; don’t profane them by watching on a cell phone):

The Weight” (written by Robbie Robertson, 6 Nations)
All along the Watch Tower” (written by Bob Dylan,
made famous by Jimi Hendrix)

There are many more music videos, most of them shot in the musicians’ home territories.

I’m not sure how the sounds were coordinated. In the magic of a musical moment, I believe, lordie, I do believe. Most of the musicians are wearing headphones, so it’s possible that they recorded everything in a single, global, ever-loving, democratic take.

My son is a musician, and I’ve watched for hours as he edits and mixes a song. My daughter makes videos, and I’ve watched for hours as she edits and mixes the video of that same song.

Behind the scenes–whether musical, videographic, ritualistic, or educational–something else is happening. From front-of-house rituals look one way. From back-of-house, quite another.

When I document rituals, people often expect me to ask: Who is the ritual leader? What’s the authoritative version of this ceremony? Is it approved (by bishops, imams, elders, roshis, gurus)?

I ask those questions, but, often to people’s surprise, I also ask: Who cooked the food? Who cleans up? Who washes dishes? Who is excluded?

Don’t get me wrong. I love these Playing for Change videos, because I want to imagine the world as one. But I also want to peek behind the curtain, look backstage, see what kind of wizard runs the Oz show, especially since we now have an experienced showman running the American plutocracy.