The images from Ethiopia couldn’t have been more shocking . . .
It was 1984, and Christmas was approaching fast. In London, however, Bob Geldof, the Irish musician, didn’t feel too festive. He’d just seen the latest pictures coming in from Africa, where famine once again was rife.
He decided that the time to act had come. Band Aid was born.
Band Aid – a name chosen carefully, for this was a project aimed at healing – was the supergroup, comprising all the day’s most-famous musicians from Great Britain and Ireland, that on November 25, gathered at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill to record a record that changed the planet.
Called Do they know it’s Christmas?, it became the fastest-selling single of all time in the UK, the Christmas number one that year and a conduit for raising awareness of, and much-needed funds (around $13-million) for, the people starving to death in Ethiopia.
Like no other record ever made for charity, Band Aid’s efforts inspired other such projects, including We are the World, recorded here in the United States, as we’ll explain at a later date. It also prompted Live Aid, a remarkable dual-venue concert – staged simultaneously, in London and Philadelphia – that was watched by 1.9-billion people in more than 150 countries. Doing untold good in Ethiopia and beyond, this project – one that began, it must be said, in modest surroundings – connected the planet like never before. Click here and you’ll see that it’s also a great, great song . . .
So the images are a little grainy, the hairstyles quite shocking and, from time to time, it loses sync. It is 28 years old and the most important thing – the sentiment expressed in the lyrics – has stood the test of time. Just think about the following for a moment:
It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid,
At Christmas time, we let in light and we banish shade,
And in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy,
Throw your arms around the world at Christmas time.
Inspirational stuff, you’ll be sure to agree. Here at OM HQ, where we’re all about spreading joy, letting in light and throwing our arms around those most in need, this strikes a chord. The genius here, the most telling thing, is that such sentiment is as relevant here today – in Saunderstown, Rhode Island, in 2012 – as it was back then, in England and in Ethiopia, in 1984.
Here in our studio, we’d like to commend Bob Geldof and his contemporaries – Midge Ure, Bono, George Michael and all – for their time and effort, for reaching out and making a stand. For helping starving people in Africa. For opening eyes everywhere.
This is more than a record, more than a Christmas song. This is a lesson in humanity, an exercise in connection. The sentiment expressed in the lyrics can be applied not just to the famine-ridden and the far away, but closer to home, where there are always those in need crying out for a little love, and not just at Christmas time.
So please, listen to the song again, think about those people, do something to help them . . .
‘Say a prayer, pray for the other one,
‘At Christmas time it’s hard, but when you’re having fun,
‘There’s a world outside your window, and it’s a world of dread and fear,
‘Where the only water flowing, is the bitter sting of tears.’
Inspired? Please, throw your arms around the world at Christmas time . . .