“We Are The World” during one of the endless loops of Michael Jackson-related video ephemera that aired this weekend, I thought about how the whole idea of the star-studded charity tribute single had pretty much sputtered out over the course of this decade. Imagine my surprise when Jon Bon Jovi–no stranger to using his songs toward charitable ends–came along to kind of underscore my point this afternoon!While watching
The 2001 version of “What’s Going On” that benefited both AIDS programs in Africa and the American Red Cross (the latter was added to the roster in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks) seemed to be a a harbinger for this fate, with the confusion expressed in its title oddly underscoring the idea that things weren’t exactly hunky dorky on the homefront. And “Just Stand Up,” a ladies-only affair that was supposed to benefit Stand Up To Cancer last year, seemed to sit down almost immediately after it came on the scene thanks to its sales rapidly peaking and valleying. What, then, to make of Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora covering “Stand By Me” with Persian singer Andy Madadian as a way to “show solidarity with” the people of Iran? (You do get to hear Bon Jovi sing in Farsi!)
It’s not a “charity” single per se–producer Don Was told Billboard, “It wasn’t intended to be on the Billboard charts, wasn’t meant to be a hit record or even pressed on a CD. It’s intended to be downloaded and shared by the Iranian people. The whole idea was to get it into Iran and tell them…to carry on, that the world is watching and we’re with you.” (He also mentioned something about “remembering the ’60s,” which, sigh.) I suppose this might be the musical equivalent of Twitter users turning their icons green, and Lord knows that a download campaign is more effective than trying to get a video featuring old guys on MTV at this point. But does this “download, don’t buy” campaign, then, represent the true end of the charity single? Or is the world waiting for a cause that they can more fully embrace–and a songwriter who can actually harness the moment into something that isn’t an already-walked-down path–in order to bring that era back?
Stand By Me – Andy, Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, & Friends [YouTube via The Awl]