John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin (who recently won a copyright infringement lawsuit) has re-recorded the rock band’s 1971 classic “When The Levee Breaks” with the help of 17 musicians from around the world. According to Rolling Stone, these musicians include guitarist Derek Trucks, drummer Stephen Perkins, harmonica player Ben Lee, singer Susan Tedeschi, singer Márjá Eira, slide guitarist Keith Secola and vocalist Mihirangi. The re-recording and its video was produced by Sebastian Robertson and Mark Johnson as part of Playing for Change’s Song Around the World Initiative, which aims to connect the world through music and break down boundaries between people.
Originally inspired by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie, who wrote “When the Levee Breaks” two years after the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, the re-recording focuses on the same theme. The video opens with a shot of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and a spreading wildfire. Robertson says, “Looking at ‘When the Levee Breaks’ through the lens of producing a song to raise awareness for key environmental organizations truly felt like a plea for climate justice. The wailing guitars, harmonica, and vocals all in harmony for Mother Earth.”
The video also features the musicians with their names and their hometowns as they appear. Jones mentioned that recruiting the other musicians for the song was not a challenge. He stated, “It’s always interesting to hear what other musicians do with a piece. Obviously I had no idea what the other parts would sound like as we each recorded remotely, so it was a real thrill when I finally got to see and hear all of these incredibly talented musicians in the finished video. Watch the wonderfully made video below.
All funds generated from the song will benefit the charity partners of Peace Through Music, which includes Conservation International, American Rivers, WWF, Reverb and the Playing for Change Foundation.