DEAR GELDOF AND URE…

Rediscovered in the email archives was this little beauty from my brother. Thought i would reprint it here.

I also wrote a little something about Geldof, which you can find here.

Dear Geldof and Ure,

I write to take issue with your hugely successful, 1984 famine fundraising song “Do They Know Its Christmas”.

The issues I have are mostly with the lyrics, as follows.

* “Feed The World” – there is no need to feed the whole world, particularly as you rightly state in a later verse that we live in a “world of plenty”. Surely the message should be to distribute food more equitably around the world.

* “Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears” – About 70% of the planet is water and oceans, seas, rivers, streams and canals appear to be flowing constantly at varying speeds. Human lacrimal glands secrete mostly water with a salty element, albeit with a neutral PH that would exclude the possibility of any bitter stinging of skin.

* “And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom” – Africa is not Mordor. Also, it is not predominantly Christian and is mostly Muslim, Arab or of indigenous beliefs. If church bells sound anywhere then it would not be a chime as such but a “ring”.

* “Well tonight thank God its them instead of you ” – this is a self-centred and selfish attitude but typical of modern celebrities and pop stars. Do you seriously expect Christians in general to pray at night that they are glad that Africans are dying of malnutrition, cholera, HIV and malaria as opposed to them? This is not something that clergy would advocate and I am sure the early missionaries to Africa would be aghast at the very thought.

* “And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime” – There is permanent snow on Mount Kiliminjaro in Tanzania, also on the higher peaks in Lesotho and South Africa where skiiing is possible. A basic grasp of world geography would tell you this. Please ensure the correct meteorological advice is taken before writing lyrics of this nature.

* “Where nothing ever grows, no rain nor rivers flow” – This is a major error. Africa is a huge continent crossed by both Tropics and the equator. Granted, large swathes are desert where no rain or rivers flow for periods of the year but Africa also has enormous lush rainforests, plains, steppes and prairies and the green Ethiopian Highlands as well as neighbouring Congo, Kenya and Uganda enjoy significant rainfall. The Victoria Falls In Zambia certainly flow, at vast speeds and with the largest width and water volume of any waterfall in the world. The Congo River is so vast that it and its tributaries can provide water for one third of the world’s population and The Nile is the longest river on Earth. In addition, 19th century pioneer David Livingstone navigated the Zambezi in a boat and would have been unable to do so without it flowing, with or without oars.

* “Let them know its Christmastime again” – Why would you? Most are non-Christians anyway and the concept of eveyone wasting money on presents and eating and drinking gargantuan amounts would probably not be understood or approved of and undo the good work of aid agencies and charities. Also, surely to remind them repeatedly is wrong and highly insensitive.

I hope you accept these points and amend the inaccuracies if there is to be a re-release, that is if you have time between occasionally performing “I Don’t Like Mondays” in front of minor royalty or touring small jazz clubs playing 4 different “Vienna” remixes before making way for an X-factor finalist.

Finally, in today’s more PC society I also suggest that if Band Aid are reformed you think more carefully about the line-up. Songs about famine by people with several houses is surely sending out mixed messages.

Have a good late December/early January

2 comments

  1. Very good – I always thought the same about the ‘Do they know its Christmas’ (no they’re effing Muslims or another /no religion)

  2. Michael Buerk was on Have I Got News For You talking about this – apparently they are Coptic Christians in Ethiopia/Eritrea, which means that Christmas for them is 7 January.

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