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“Chan Chan”: Playing for Change

man wearing hat playing guitar

Every one of these “Playing for Change” musical collaborations lifts my heart. But as millions around the world have discovered since the advent of the Buena Vista Social Club album and film, there’s something especially warm and nurturing about Compay Segundo’s “Chan Chan.” Simple and sensuous, it’s derived from the Cuban folk tale of Juanica and Chan Chan, two poor guajiros (rural Cubans) sifting sand to build a home. The chorus, meanwhile, evokes the long loneliness of the road, where perhaps the memory of love is all the sweeter.

Hearing these virtuoso Cuban musicians (the 83-year-old Teté Garcia Caturla nearly steals the show!) would be enough to brighten anyone’s day. But here, they’re joined by peers in Mali, Japan, Lebanon, and Brazil, in a flawless rendition of a classic. Enjoy! And check out the other Playing for Change recordings. Each one is a testament to how good people can be when they make something beautiful together.


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