Musical Advent Calendar: December 8

Today’s song is one I consider to be the heaviest hitter in the 1980s Christmas Music catalog, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid. I can’t even TELL you how over the moon I was about this song when it came out in 1984. I was in the throes of my teenage fangirl years and was a huge Anglophile when it came to my music. And to be a  teenaged Anglophilic music obsessive in the pre-Internet era took a fair amount of work. While Star Hits did an admirable job of keeping us informed, we really needed to track down the UK version, Smash Hits, or a weekly like NME or Melody Maker to get any kind of handle on the music scene over there, and those things weren’t always easy for a carless kid in the ‘burbs to find.

When I would get a copy (usually after sending my mom with a list to the indie record shop in the college town where she worked), I would pore over them for hours, carefully researching every article, every ad, every classified. I’d carefully cut out articles for my scrapbook and show adverts to decorate the mirror in my bedroom (or my locker); I’d make lists of records I wanted, then would send Mom back out to the record shop, where she would dutifully secure copies of this 12″ or that lp and the latest imported music mags, and the cycle would start all over again.

So when the articles came out about this new Christmas charity single, it was BIG NEWS in my clique of new wave girlfriends. Bob Geldof (Boomtown Rats)  sees a show about people starving due to drought in Ethiopia, decides to do something about it; calls up Midge Ure (Ultravox) and says, “let’s write a song to raise money!” What seemed like everyone in the UK scene said, “yes, let’s!” and suddenly there were photos from the recording, there were documentary specials on MTV about the making of DTKIC?, there was a  7″  (and 12″) single to buy that would help save people in Africa. Duran Duran, Sting, Bono, George Michael, Spandau Ballet, Paul Young, Bananarama, and others all together singing about Christmastime and how there’s no snow in Africa, but we can give them the gift of life! Awesome!

This song was, of course, the first of many great attempts by earnest 1980s musicians to “check [their] egos at the door” and get together to sing away the world’s troubles.  The apex of those attempts was the 24 hour worldwide phenomenon known as Live Aid, which took place in the summer of 1985. Without DTKIC? there would have been no Live Aid, and without Live Aid, why would Phil Collins need to fly from London to Philadelphia to play in both cities during the course of one concert?

Let’s ponder that question another time and get back to today’s song (Phil’s playing drums here, too!):



If you missed the Making of video when it played on MTV back in the day, here’s  part 1

and part 2