Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Do They Know^WCare It's Christmas?

This year, I attended an 80's-themed Hallowe'en party. You can see DLang in that video about halfway through, decked out as Robert Smith and vamping with Madonna, and I'm near the end as Cyndi Lauper also with Madonna (who was clearly a total lip-sync whore). One of the songs they played was Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?"

Confession: I used to love this song so much that hearing it actually made me a little teary. And by "used to" I mean as recently as last year. It reminds me of high school and Brit pop and my first-ever cassette tape (Wham!'s Make It Big) and makes me all sentimental.

After hearing the song a few times on the radio this year and listening more closely to the lyrics, it still makes me tear up - only now, because I'm laughing so hard. There was a famine in Africa in 1984 when the song was recorded, and I'm sure that when Bob Geldof was inspired to record the song to raise money for Africa, he had the best of intentions. Let's review the lyrics to see how they've held up since the song was first recorded 12 years ago.

While the first verse is grasping a little for a good rhyming scheme, the words are relatively innocuous:

It's Christmastime,
there's no need to be afraid
At Christmastime,
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 Christmastime
That's a nice sentiment. Let's continue:
But say a prayer,
pray for the other ones
Hm. Who are these "other ones" for whom George Michael asks us to pray?
At Christmastime 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
The "bitter sting of tears" - that's classic. And it only gets better.
And the Christmas bells that ring there
are the clanging chimes of doom
That's dramatic.
Well tonight thank God it's them
instead of you

Can you say, "white man's burden"?

This next part is one of my favourites:

And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmastime
The greatest gift they'll get this year is life

"We feel sorry for Africa, because it doesn't snow there. And also, they don't have Christ, which we as famous British rock stars know that everyone needs, oh, and George, can you pass the eggnog? No, not that one, that's Sting's vegan mix without the rum. Right, that's the one."

Where nothing ever grows
No rain or rivers flow
Do they know it's Christmastime at all?

Really? Because it's very important that EVERYONE know it's Christmastime. (You'd definitely have that impression if you went to my hometown, where the local Tim Horton's has a Nativity Scene as big as a Honda Civic. The first year I lived in NY I vowed that I was going to meet a nice Jewish boy and bring him home for the holidays, but it didn't happen, well unless you count D2 but he only lasted 4 months and they didn't overlap with the holidays and anyway he was a jerk. It's also further proof that the world is a funny place when you feel the need to insert multiculturalism and religious tolerance into your half-lesbian family.)

Here's to you raise a glass for everyone
Here's to them underneath that burning sun

"Thanks for that eggnog, that's the stuff. I heard Bob was going to get us some ice, too. No, we're not going skating, Sting. Go back to your tofunog. Simon, tell Boy George I'm going to be in the third stall, he'll know what I'm talking about. Cheerio!"

Do they know it's Christmastime at all?

1 comment:

Candace said...

That song is hilarious, I had never listened to all the lyrics before.

During our discussions about when we were going to get Griffin baptised already I told my mom Julian was 1/2 Jewish and she did not believe me.

Of course now at our athiest heretic house we are totally going all out for Christmas anyway.