music, tv

In defense of Band Aid …

And AGAIN, we’re back. At least most of the time. We’ll see how long this sticks.

I would’ve posted earlier in the evening, but I got sucked into my recording of a truly excellent show I highly recommend — Sundance Channel’s One Punk Under God. It follows Jim Bakker’s son, Jay, as he kicks around the ruins of Heritage USA and talks about his estrangement from his dad. (But NOT from his mom, Tammy Faye, who is ailing.)

I thought it’d be interesting to see Heritage USA, and it was. “Ruins” is not an overstatement, and whatever you think of the theological and financial creativity that brought people there, it’s hard not to see something poignant in the deserted theme park.

But beyond that, Jay is an interesting guy. He did the typical 180-degree turn away from his parents’ lifestyle and has made it about 145 degrees back. He preaches a more inclusive Christianity and talks with remarkable openness about his past, moving listeners to tears. His wife reminds me of any number of smart Georgia women I knew growing up.

So anyway, back to tonight’s topic …

While browsing the Jason / Jefito “Mellowmas” celebration (also highly recommended), I came across a passing negative reference to the Band Aid charity song Do They Know It’s Christmas? That’s the second Band Aid dissing I’ve seen recently, and I’m a little surprised. I’d always assumed the general reaction to that song ranged from “like” to “benign indifference.”

Let me explain why those should be the only viable reactions (I’m a little insistent about some aspects of my musical taste) …

1. The group charity appeal was not yet cliche at this point. (If I weren’t rushing to get this done, I’d look up the dates to see if the Super Bowl Shuffle pre-dated this, but it’s safe to say Refrigerator Perry can’t be cited as an influence here.) Bob Geldof was no bandwagoner.

2. Like Courtney Love, Boy George has seen his long, tedious downfall overshadow his considerable talent. But the talent was considerable. The guy could sing.

3. It’s so simple and unassuming. Especially in comparison to the wretched U.S. response. Band Aid simply sings Feed the World. USA for Africa claims WE Are the World. I guess that’s a complaint about the catering?

And you HAVE to judge it in comparison to other such efforts. If you’re going to raise money on this scale, you have to do it in a style that offers the broadest appeal. As much as you and I might love to hear Husker Du crank the amps to 12 and scream about Africa, that’s probably not going to make a dent in the famine relief budget.

It’s a pleasant melody and a nice sentiment, with a driving Phil Collins beat. And best of all, they let Collins play drums instead of writing the lyrics.

Let them know it’s Christmas. Or Hanukkah, or the winter solstice, or whatever. Feed the world.


2 thoughts on “In defense of Band Aid …

  1. I interviewed Jay Bakker, once, sort of, during his dad’s fraud trial in 1989. I think he went by “Jamie” then, but I can’t remember and my old clips are in the attic so I’m not going to look them up. Anyway, he was kind of a skate punk and, as you can imagine, had no use for reporters, but he also was a little more benign than I had expected, as if he thought there might be something a little worthwhile on the other side of all this fraud business.

    As far as “Do They Know It’s Christmas” goes, that was late ’83, well before the “Super Bowl Shuffle,” and, yes, it was a good song, well done. Anyone who disagrees should go scuba diving with sting rays.

  2. I don’t hate “Do They Know It’s Christmas.” In fact, Mike and I will be performing it at an Acoustic ’80s gig tonight. I do think it’s worthy of mocking, however, and maybe that’s partially because I think everything is worthy of mocking, but it also has to do with the phrase “clanging chimes of doom.” I mean, I see the point they’re trying to make – but do they have to be this heavy handed?

    Also, when I was a kid, I interpreted Bono’s “well, tonight, thank God it’s them instead of you” incorrectly. Instead of taking it to mean “tonight, you had better thank God it’s them instead of you,” I took it to mean Bono saying, “tonight, I’m thanking God it’s them, instead of you (girl).” Which sounded selfish and horribly out-of-place to my young ears. I’m glad I eventually figured that one out.

    On another note, I remember hearing that one of the biggest arguments of the day was that George Michael’s massive use of hairspray was getting into people’s cups of tea. No joke.

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