Tag Archives: Live Aid

It’s Christmas Time…

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.

-A

Planet Earth Is Worth 24 Hours of Reality

I think Duran Duran’s love for Planet Earth kind of goes back to the song at hand – which was the beginning of my journey with this band.   It didn’t come as a complete surprise to me to see the announcement that they would be performing for 24 Hours of Reality…which is also Live Earth. After all, we all live here on this planet, don’t we? Why wouldn’t we want Duran Duran, the band who first told us that there were 247,680 born everyday (surely there are more than that being born each day now in 2015) or that the oldest known song is the Shadduf Chant, to perform in a broadcast that – at the very least – will encourage every day folks like you and I, if not the powers in charge, to take our dwindling resources a little more seriously?

Well, like anything else I’ve written in regards to Duranland,  I underestimated how strongly fans feel on either side of this issue. While I really didn’t see much on Twitter, fans had absolutely no problem posting their disappointment with the band and their choice to perform, citing reasons from Al Gore to the fact that this band shouldn’t be political.

There’s no way I’m touching the political football on this one, because ultimately – I don’t think the planet deserves that kind of treatment. That said, I acknowledge that some governments, such as my own, have encouraged the game. While there is no doubt that Daily Duranie is as much written from opinion as it is from fact at times – this post isn’t going to take a side on climate change or try to prove that it exists or explain why it is OK for the band to rub shoulders with Al Gore even after his (now ex) wife managed to have them censored back. Nope. Not gonna go there. Even I know when it’s time to back away from the hornet’s nest.

So many of the comments I’ve read expressed dismay over the band making a “political statement” just by appearing. I have to wonder where those people have been over the past thirty years. I know there has been many an interview – especially lately – where Simon has said that they’ve tried not to get too openly political in the past. Perhaps that’s so, and perhaps they’ve also done it subtly enough to where most people haven’t found fault.  A few examples? The video for Planet Earth has scrolling text about doomsday, the population, and various other facts about our planet. Not overtly political, but the point was still there. The band played Live Aid – which I am sure no one has forgotten, although I think many have forgotten just what Live Aid stood for, in 1985. They followed that up by playing a show for Amnesty International in 1987. In 1990, Simon LeBon sang “Follow in my Footsteps” on the album Requiem for the Americas – an album curated by Jonathan Elias as a tribute to Native Americans. In 2007, Duran Duran performed at the London (Wembley Stadium)  Live Earth (also organized in part by Al Gore). John Taylor even openly stated his support for Barack Obama as President of the US by doing YouTube videos and wearing an Obama t-shirt, and that was even before he became a US citizen. These are just a few examples off the top of my head, and I haven’t even touched upon the social commentary topics they’ve included in songs and videos over the years.  This isn’t new and this certainly is not the first time, so I guess the idea that some fans feel like now is the time to insist that they not become “political” comes thirty-seven years too late, at least in my head.

I know how important it may be to keep Duran Duran on a pedestal, or in a box marked “escapism”. My goodness, we all sometimes need to just turn the music on, sit back, and let it take us away. For the most part, it is a very healthy way to deal with stress and life – at times. On the other hand, it is also important to live in reality. Even though you or I might use the band as our escape, it’s reasonable to assume they live in reality. Sometimes, reality is worth taking a stand and putting yourself out there…and sometimes, you get hammered for it. I have to admire the band for being willing, and for challenging their fans to see another side they may not have previously considered.

I know I’ll be watching for them during Live Earth on Friday with the same sense of pride and affection as always…and chances are, I’ll steal a moment or two from my real life to “escape” as they perform on that Paris stage for Live Earth / 24 Hours of Reality!

-R

It was 30 years ago today…

All morning I’ve seen tweets and Facebook messages referring to Live Aid because today is the thirtieth anniversary. Thirty YEARS ago. Is that even possible??

I suppose in some ways, yes, it does feel like it’s been thirty years. It really kind of feels like a lifetime ago in some respects. The year was 1985. It was the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school. I spent the day running between the backyard of my home, where I was trying to perfect my tan (back then, I didn’t think twice about skin cancer) and my living room, where I had the TV turned up loud enough so I could hear who was playing.  I didn’t want to miss Duran Duran.

Historically, there had never been a show like it. Live Aid was about something much bigger than the music. I don’t believe there has been a show like it since. Whether it’s chalked up to the music of the time, the world, or just that particular generation, Live Aid was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of gig. For the lion’s share, most bands look back on Live Aid as this sort of strange, surreal experience; but many also seem to have found a sense of pride in having been a part of something so beyond themselves. I don’t get the sense that it was an experience that any of them were able to fully appreciate at the time, with comments regarding firm set-limits to testimonials describing the glitterati-enlaced talent waiting and mingling backstage. Even as a fan, to read oral-histories such as the one Lyndsey Parker penned for Yahoo! Music can feel a bit surreal.

For me, Live Aid represents an end to my glory days as an 80s music loving teen. Music was forever changed. Duran Duran didn’t play another show as the Fab Five until 2003. Like John Taylor, I rather miss the days where music was about living life to excess: hedonism and narcissistic as it may have been. After Live Aid, it stopped being about having fun for the sake of having fun. All of the sudden it became about “the greater good” to a large extent. While I am not one to mock the trials and tribulations of the world…there is something to be said for escapism. That’s probably why to this day I still look to Duran Duran for my escape and fun.

And Martha (Quinn)? Believe me, we ALL heard that bum note. For the Duranies out there, it was the final punctuation mark on a remarkable moment in our lives. Of course we forgave Simon, and at the time I don’t think many of us realized the eventual significance of the moment..but it stood as that final capstone for so many years, it is difficult not to equate one with the other. I don’t think the band has necessarily perpetuated the memory of that note as much as it’s been in the lore and/or canon of this fandom ever sense. That note came to be known as marking an end, and a new beginning.

-R

 

 

 

Today in Duran History – Cedar Rapids

On today’s date in 1987, Duran Duran played the Five Seasons Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  This show took place during the Strange Behaviour tour, and most notably for many fans – it was the first tour after Live Aid which signified the end of the “Fab Five”.

Happy (early) 4th of July to my fellow American fans, and to the rest of the world – have a lovely weekend!

-R