Music That Makes a Difference 2018

Music That Makes a Difference 2018

CNN Music & Art

Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson

CNN Music & Art

Eddie Van Halen donates guitars to public schools

Eddie Van Halen

CNN Music & Art


Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite

It’s been said that the blues ain’t nothin’ but a good man feelin’ bad.

At its best, the blues are raw, melodic emotion from unbridled joy to deep sadness.

And that is what you get when legendary artists Ben Harper and Charley Musselwhite collaborate.

“No Mercy in This Land” is the follow-up to the Grammy Award winning album, “Get Up!”

From the lyrics to the guitar licks, the title track is raw, gritty and smoldering at the same time.

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no mercyThese days I speak in whispers
Travel only to and from
Come close you’ll see the red
Of a well bitten tongue
The righteous and the wretched
The holy and the damned
Is there no mercy in this land?
No mercy in this land?

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“The blues is the sound that brought me to music,” Harper explained to CNN’s Isha Sesay and John Vause. “Charlie is a huge part of that soundtrack in growing up with his music.”

Musselwhite is widely regarded as the best harmonica player that has ever lived. He’s played with all the industry’s finest from Muddy Waters to Buddy Guy to Tom Waits and Bonnie Raitt. Perhaps, it’s because he was born with a soul that bleeds blue.

“For me, blues is more than just music,” he said. “I call it your buddy in good times and your comforter in rough times. It’s always there for you.”

And Musselwhite has lived those words. Alcohol nearly killed him multiple times. His dad left the family when he was young and his elderly mom was gunned down at the age of 93 during a home invasion robbery.

Harper captured the heartbreak in their new album.

Father left us down here all alone
My poor mother is under a stone
With an aching heart and trembling hands
Is there no mercy in this land?

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“I think it’s very important that if you’re gonna step to the blues — you step to the blues in a way that is as sincere as you can possibly pour onto the page and pour out of your instrument,” Harper said.

“Charlie and I tell each other stories through our instruments, though our playing, through our production of these records. It’s a great privilege and my highest life accomplishment working with this gentleman here.

“In 100 years they’ll continue to be celebrating this man’s sound and hopefully I will have played a small roll in that.”

Written and produced by: Ben Bamsey for “CNN Newsroom L.A.”

ben, harper, charlie

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