A new version of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" featuring Jon Bon Jovi and exiled Iranian singer Andy Madadian, which is making the rounds as an online video, is meant to send "a musical message of worldwide solidarity" to the Iranian people in the wake of the country's controversial recent election, according to co-producer Don Was.
Was tells Billboard.com that the session, which took place June 24 in Los Angeles, was spurred by a conversation he had with Madadian about "whether there was something we could do just to send out a little message of solidarity, remembering the '60s, believing music can change things." When they arrived to record the song, they found Bon Jovi, guitarist Richie Sambora and John Shanks, who's producing their next album, sitting outside and having lunch.
"They asked what we were doing, I told them, and Jon said, 'Look, man, if you do it right now we'll do it with you,' " Was recalls. "So we did." Madadian -- who's lived in the U.S. since the Iranian revolution of 1979 -- and Bon Jovi duet on the song, with both men singing the first verse in Farsi. Sambora plays a guitar solo, with Was on bass, Patrick Leonard on keyboards and Jeff Rothchild on drums.
"We just cut it," Was says, "and the video is the session. It took about four hours and just fell into place nicely." The video, which features footage and still photos from the session, went up on Was' portion of My Damn Channel  on Saturday and was quickly disseminated via MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and other sites. At the end of the video Madadian and Bon Jovi stand next to each other, with the latter holding a sign saying "We are one" in Farsi.
"It is not for sale," Was says. "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."
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