Every year, at Christmas, without fail, I listen to the song, Do They Know It’s Christmas by Band-Aid. This tradition has existed since the song was released in 1984. If you haven’t listened to it yet this year, let me post the video for you to do just that:
Yesterday, I noticed a tweet from Duran Duran featuring an article posted in Rolling Stone magazine written by our friend, Lori Majewski, which you can read here. The article discusses the making of Band-Aid along with some behind-the-scenes stories, which are thoroughly enjoyable. I have to admit that I especially liked the fact that Duran showed up with Spandau and both bands were hungover.
While I was entertained by the article, I found myself drawn to two particular quotes. First, Boy George said, “‘Band Aid and Live Aid were a great contradiction to what people thought, another side of the decade,” says Boy George. “The Eighties were about greed and excess – we were called Thatcher’s Children.'” Then, Simon followed up with, “One reason Le Bon and his contemporaries found Band Aid so attractive, he says, was because it “was this opportunity to do something that wasn’t about ‘me.’ It made you feel you could do something useful. We made young people believe they had some kind of power and were able to do something that did have an effect.'”
This song came out Christmas 1984, when I was nine years old. I hadn’t been a Duranie for very long and had little ideas about the world and my role in it. Duran’s decision to participate in something like this didn’t surprise me as I had no expectations of whether or not a band should partake in activities for charity or make political statements. Yet, I do remember feeling proud to be a fan of a band that would join in such an effort to raise money for a starving people. I, in fact, defended the British supergroup over many of my peers who didn’t know anything about the song or its impact once USA for African’s song “We Are the World” was released. I complained, openly, to my classmates that the Americans were copying the British’s idea.
Looking back, I had no idea that Duran Duran was often dismissed for the (incorrect) assumption of being connected to Thatcherism or Reaganism, the ultimate capitalistic, political leaders. I didn’t realize that for many critics Duran’s participation in Band-Aid and later Live Aid seemed out of character. To me, it made sense. Clearly, the members were kind people who wanted to help out their fellows, at least that’s what I thought (and still think). I recognize now that this supergroup and single changed the vibe of the 1980s from being one of fun, greed, materialism to being serious, selfless but had no idea back then. I have heard John Taylor state in interviews that Live Aid divided the decade into these two halves.
Interestingly enough, I wonder now how much this song really affected my world view. Heck, I ponder how much Duran Duran of the 1980s impacted my philosophy of life. I do believe in having fun and express that every time I get to a show or get to go on tour. I enjoy times out with friends, having a drink or two. Yet, I also am a person who believes that humans should act to help out their fellow humans. I went into teaching–not for the pay or the summers “off” (HA! I wish!) but because it provided a chance to help many kids. Then, I spend time outside of work and fandom on political activities. Why? Again, I want to do my part in order to make the world a little bit better.
Perhaps, Duran Duran and Band-Aid’s Do They Know Its Christmas helped to form this fundamental philosophy of life I have. I don’t accept the premise that I need to choose between having fun and being serious, between focusing on myself and on others. I saw my idols, as a kid, doing both simultaneously, even if that isn’t what adults or music critics saw then. That is what I saw and what I hope to live in my own life now.