Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Famine bad. Snow good.

Remember "Do They Know It's Christmas" by Band Aid? Written to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia? Big hit in 1984 and trotted out every year thereafter?

Turns out Bob Geldof—who cowrote the song with Midge Ure—absolutely hates it now.

From the Daily Telegraph:
"I am responsible for two of the worst songs in history," [Geldof] said.

"The other one is We Are The World. Any day soon, I will go to the supermarket, head to the meat counter and it will be playing. Every f ... ing Christmas."
I have to say, I liked "Do They Know It's Christmas" when it first came out, and not just because most other Christmas music sucked by comparison. The song was catchy, had a satisfying build-up, and was chock full of protesty goodness. What wasn't to like?

Then I started listening more closely to the lyrics. In particular:
And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time
The greatest gift they'll get this year is life
Even at the tender age of 15, this struck me as odd. Yes, there was much evil afoot in Ethiopia. Hundreds of thousands starving due to scarcity, indifference, bad government. But ... snow? A great injustice was being perpetrated on the Ethiopian people because there wouldn't be snow in Africa?

Still catchy and all, but that pretty much did it for my ability to take the song seriously.


David Powell said...

I never read that line like that. I saw the snow as an emblem of the iconic Western-style Christmas that so many of us imagine/pretend to be a universal experience, i.e., "Wake up, there's a whole continent for whom that experience is alien...they'll never know anything that warm and fuzzy."

cinderkeys said...

That's most likely the way they meant it. The problem I had was that if you imagined an Ethiopia with no famine and a benevolent, fairly elected government, if you imagined that the Christians in that country were enjoying the holiday with no worries about day-to-day survival, there still wouldn't be any snow. And that would be OK. No need to compare it to the Western Perfect Christmas Template.

Am I the *only* person whose eyes rolled at the wistful mention of snow? :)

Rhodester said...

Wait.. it doesn't snow in Ethiopia? Then what became of that truck-load of sleds I gifted to the village last year?