I know that I should claim “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (Sinatra), or “O Come, All Ye Faithful” (my favorite hymn at midnight on Christmas Eve), as the greatest Christmas song in my book. But….in all honesty, my all-time favorite Christmas song – the one that rocks my world during the holidays – is…”Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (Band Aid, 1984) And, if I can read your minds (you young readers and bloggers), then let me answer what I think you’re thinking….”YES! I grew up in the 80’s!” I actually saw this video on MTV – when we watched MTV for music videos, not The Hills, The Real World or Jersey Shore (though, I’ll admit I do watch those too).
I love this song; the humanitarian effort behind it; the domino effect it created with 3 major collaborative initiatives put together by musicians, directly following it’s release. I love this song so much that I wrote my college admissions essay on Bob Geldof – the song co-writer, co-creator of the super-group of musicians, Band Aid, and organizer of the Live Aid Concert (how’s that for 3 things?).
“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” was written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure in 1984 to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia. Bob Geldof put together a group called Band Aid, which was made up of popular Irish and British musicians in the early 1980’s – Sting (The Police), Phil Collins (Genesis), Boy George (Culture Club), George Michael (Wham!), Bono and Adam Clayton (of U2, who at that time weren’t the mega rock stars that they are today – they only had one hit in 1984), and Duran Duran amongst many others. “Do They Know It’s Christmas” was the highest selling single in UK chart history, until 1997, when Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind 1997” (released in tribute to the late Princess Diana) sold almost 5 million copies in the UK. The song raised $14 million for famine relief in Africa.
I love the “threes” groupings in the video: Sting, Bono and Simon Le Bon (Duran Duran) at 1:23; the jammin’ guitar trio of Bob Geldof, ?(middle) and John Taylor (Duran Duran) at 2:03, 2:46; Bananarama at 2:28, 2:51 and Kool and the Gang at 2:30. And the 80’s mullets, high-waisted jeans and shoulder pads fashion is almost laughable in the video.
“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” was the catalyst for the following 3 major collaborative efforts by popular musicians in the 80’s:
1) Live Aid was a multi-venue concert that was held on July, 13 1985. The event was organized by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia. The event was held simultaneously in Wembley Stadium in London, UK (72,000 in attendance) and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia in the US (99,000 in attendance). Australia and Germany also held concerts on the same day. It was one of the largest-scale satellite link-ups and television broadcasts of all time: it is estimated that 2 billion viewers, across 60 countries, watched “live.”
2) In 1985, “We Are the World” was recorded by the supergroup USA for Africa. It was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, and co-produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian. The song was released on March 7, 1985. It topped music charts throughout the world and became the fastest-selling American pop single in history…AND the first ever single to be certified multi-platinum.
3) Following, came Farm Aid, a benefit concert on September 22, 1985, in Champaign, Illinois, which was held to raise money for family farmers in the United States. The concert was organized by Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young and initiated by Bob Dylan’s comments at Live Aid. (Dylan said, “I hope that some of the money…maybe they can just take a little bit of it, maybe…one or two million, maybe…and use it, say, to pay the mortgages on some of the farms and, the farmers here, owe to the banks….”) Nelson and Mellencamp along with family farmers testified before Congress and the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987 was passed to help save family farms from foreclosure.
There are currently 3 versions of this song: the original in 1984; 1989 version (Band Aid II) – featuring Kylie Minogue, Chris Rea, Cliff Richard, Jimmy Somerville, Lisa Stansfield; 2004 version (Band Aid 20) with Sir Paul McCartney, Bono, Chris Martin (Coldplay), Dido, Joss Stone.
I’ve already watched this video more than 10 times!!
Merry Christmas! Peace out.