Daily Archives: December 24, 2014

Friday Evening Videos (Christmas Eve Edition): “Do They Know It’s Christmas”

It’s pretty well documented that I am no fan of Christmas music, generally speaking, but there are some Christmas songs I actually like. I compiled a list of them some years ago, and I still stand by that list… but there’s one addition I’d like to make now. I confess I hadn’t thought about this song in years, but for some reason I’ve heard it a number of times this holiday season, and I’ve remembered how much I always liked it. I imagine a lot of people would dismiss it these days as a cheesy relic of the Awesome ’80s, and it is that… but it also evokes a mood that resonates for me. Ladies and gentleman, this is Band Aid:

If you don’t know (or have forgotten), Band Aid was a one-time “supergroup” of British New Wave artists brought together by Bob Geldof of The Boomtown Rats in 1984 to raise attention and donations for famine relief in Ethiopia. The single they cut, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?,” was a tremendous commercial success that inspired a similar U.S. effort (“We Are the World,” by American artists united under the name USA for Africa), as well as the landmark concert event Live Aid, which was held simultaneously on two continents and broadcast globally, making it something you might call a Big Deal.

In the years since, the song has been criticized for being patronizing and self-righteous, naive, a vehicle for Geldof’s ego, ineffective at really helping to alleviate poverty, and even just a bad song. And it may well be all of those things. But to me, it’s a reminder of a more innocent time, when it seemed like it really was possible to halt this tired old world’s slide down the crapper, and we could do it merely by getting a bunch of musicians to all work together for an afternoon. It was the classic Andy Hardy solution for any problem: “Hey, kids, let’s put on a show!” And we kids of the ’80s believed it could work, as fervently as the young people of the ’60s believed in their sit-ins and Flower Power. When I hear this song, I hear the voices of compassion and, most of all, of optimism. And isn’t that supposed to be what the Christmas season is about?

One final note: I never could — and still can’t! — identify most of the people who participated in Band Aid. The British artists were not my artists, for the most part. But while I can name every single face and voice in the video for “We Are the World,” I don’t like that song nearly as well. Go figure.

Whatever you’re doing this Christmas Eve as darkness falls across the world, I hope you too are thinking of compassion and hope…



Last-Minute Gift Idea?

If you, like me, are always scrambling on Christmas Eve to find something for that one person who has everything, might I suggest a copy of Stardancer, the nifty debut novel by our friend Kelly Sedinger (a.k.a. Jaquandor)? It’s now available for download in the Kindle format, so you can get it in plenty of time for tomorrow, or you can spend those Amazon gift cards you’ll be receiving on a traditional paperback copy like I’ve got:

2014-12-24_stardancer_0001_editOr here’s a third option, if you’re a gambling sort and a member of the Goodreads community: you can enter to win one of two copies up for grabs, absolutely free! If you (or the recipient of your thoughtful gift) dig good old-fashioned space opera about lost civilizations, ancient mysteries, and young people discovering their destinies — you know, Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy-type stuff — you should know about this one.

Incidentally, I feel I owe Kelly a bit of an apology. I’ve actually had my copy for nearly a month and had every good intention of talking up the book on my various online platforms to try and help his holiday sales, but as so often happens to me, various shiny things demanded my attention and now here we are… at the last minute, as it were. So, sorry, man, for not doing a better job of advocating for you!