Dear Sir Bob Geldof, even though you had great intentions and you achieved wonderful things, your legacy at Christmas annoys the heck out of me.
Every year around this time, a trip to the supermarket is even more of an endurance test because the piped music gets– even– worse. And while “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” is not the worst song ever , the lyrics really get on my nerves.
The story about how the song was created reveals a lot about the sentiments expressed in it, I think. In 1984, Bob saw a documentary or news item about the famine in Ethiopia, was moved to help, gathered his mates, wrote a song and recorded it in 24 hours. It was a fast-moving attempt to really grab at the heartstrings of people in wealthier nations and it worked; it raised millions of pounds. The title was designed to make people look at themselves, have some empathy and give generously.
But nearly 30 years later the lyrics just sound smug.
Back in 1984, the choice to play it on radio was an effort to publicise the fundraising efforts. The choice to purchase it was a genuine gift. Now we can hear the song in the supermarket, listen to these lyrics and ignore the fact that there are still famines, that wars continue, that many many people suffer hardship at this time of year around the world.
And so, Sir Bob, I think it’s a sweet song, I really do, but I’m pretty sure “they” don’t care about Christmas, they just care about getting through each day. The real question now might be: does anyone know or care about “them”?
(NB: One organisation that I really love makes it easy to remain in the Christmas spirit but also give to those people who need something other than snow and good cheer. Oxfam suggests that we “Give Geniusly” and makes it possible, through its Oxfam Unwrapped program, to give your loved ones goats, ducks or a well. In a manner of speaking, of course. Your gift actually goes to those who need it, while your loved one receives an amusing e-card.
It’s really cool, it really means something and there are a variety of financial options so you can give what you can.