In 1967 superstar British pop band The Beatles were introduced to the Indian technique of Transcendental Meditation as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The following year, they journeyed to Rishikesh in India to study with the Yogi.
The 1960s was the advent of the hippie craze and the Flower Power movement. While Scott Mackenzie sang If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair and the Beatles told us that All you need is love, another Indian mystic named Meher Baba had found cult following among the flower children. He would end his messages to his followers with an inspirational phrase which was printed on cards and posters: ‘Don’t worry. Be Happy.’
Fast-forward to 1988 when musician Bobby McFerrin was visiting his friends, the jazz duo Tuck & Patti, in (where else) San Francisco. On the wall, they had a poster printed with the words of Meher Baba. McFerrin liked the simplicity and hope of the message and composed a song entitled, ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy.’ Released in the same year as part of the soundtrack to the movie Cocktail, the song went to No 1 on American Billboard’s Hot 100.
In 1989 ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ was voted Best Song of the Year at the annual Grammy awards.
Now, fast-forward again to 2020. The world is in the grip of the worst pandemic since 1919. Thousands have died, thousands more are in quarantine in case they may become infected or infect others.
Dan Mace, a South African now based in the US is a film-maker whose philosophy is simple. “I make movies that make people happy,” he says. The young director won awards at Cannes for his quirky commercials and was voted one of the world’s top directors by Shorts magazine. Dan thought of the thousands of people in quarantine and, via Twitter, invited 36 of them to join him in production. They were not to use musical instruments – just everyday items such as pots and pans and cutlery, their mouths and their voices.
Led by just one professional musician, Jason on bass guitar, they created a remake of Bobby McFerrin’s classic hit song. The results were – well, judge for yourself by clicking on the link below.
So, words of hope and comfort to today’s COVID victims from an India guru who died over 50 years ago.
Perhaps there is something to Indian mysticism after all.