Jon Bon Jovi, Stand By Me
"It was fate," music producer Don Was says of the recording of a special version of "Stand By Me" by Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Iranian musician Andy Madadian as a tribute to the people of Iran in the wake of their turbulent national elections.
A video of their "Stand by Me," which was released for free on My Damn Channel, YouTube and TVGuide.com on June 27, has generated nearly 500,000 views of the video, and just as many emails of support. "Within hours, we were flooded and we couldn't handle it," Madadian says of the "zillions" of messages of support he received from his fellow Iranians on Facebook, MySpace and his personal website. Madadian claims that he has yet to hear any negative reaction to the video.
Watch Don Was' recording of "Stand by Me" with Bon Jovi and Andy Madadian
The serendipitous recording session took place on June 24 at the Henson Recording Studios in Los Angeles and happened, according to Was, because he and Madadian entered through a different door than usual. Inside, they found Bon Jovi and Sambora eating dinner. Was told the pair about his plan to record a track with Madadian, and they volunteered to pitch in. "It reminded me of the '60s," Was says. "You want to see a peaceful, quick solution to this. You don't want to see people suffer, and what can musicians do but to show some support with music?"
Three to six hours later, depending on who you ask, their optimistic, bilingual cover of "Stand By Me" was done. But why that song? Was admits he initially favored a cover of Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'," but Madadian insisted that the song shouldn't be too incendiary. "This is a song of unity of all the people of Iran, not just the people who are demonstrating," he emphasizes. "Although we understand why they are demonstrating, we are not taking sides here."
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The singer left his home country 30 years ago and now lives in Los Angeles. Though his music is officially banned in Iran, he still has many fans there, who hear his music on the Internet or buy bootlegs on the street. He frequently performs in neighboring countries — Armenia and the United Arab Emirates, to name two — to which his Iranian fans will travel.
Madadian says his fans will like that Bon Jovi sings one verse of the song in Farsi: "The lyrics are not exactly the same, but it's the same message." But how was his accent? "I think it's cute as anything you've ever seen, like when you hear Sophia Loren speak English," Madadian enthuses. "Iranians want to hear an American say the words; they don't care about the accent."
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