Sunday, November 16, 2014

Do they know it's Christmas time? 30 years later

The new version of Band Aid's "Do they know it's Christmas time?" is now tomorrow and this time the proceeds will go for fighting the Ebola crisis hitting Africa. It's the song that, in 1984, taught us that "there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time" (where the hell do you think Mount Kilimnjaru is?) and that they don't know it's Christmas time - forgetting that's Christians galore on the continent, and of course - "no rivers flow" - because we all know that the Nile, Congo, and Niger rivers are indeed.... "flowing" there. Sure there a zillion problems with the song: the patronising imperialist stand, the money that was squandered, the above mentionned errors and naivete in the lyrics, and the list goes on.
But laugh at it if you must, it became a Christmas classic - redone in 1989, 2004 and 2014 - and has in many ways generated memories for generations of people from trying to imitate the Bono growl (now himself a punchline of jokes after the disastrous iPhone launch of the U2 album), to parties with loved one and friends, etc.... The above covers in the photo are for the original single and the 2004 reedition (bought respecfively in 1995 from someone selling his old records and in 2004 on the launch day of the reedition when I happened to be in Belfast).
My own memory of the song?
Our haughty teacher at AUB walks in whistling The Boomtown Rats' "I don't like Mondays"... And very sarcastically asks if anyone knows the connection of that song with soil science. I pitched it saying that Bob Geldof, the singer of The Boomtown Rats actually saw a documentary on TV about famile in Africa due to the eroded soil which prompted him with Midge Ure to write "Do they know it's Christmas time?". Defeated, he said "Chemaly you are usually a pain in the butt, today you are totally right".

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