Christmas Countdown 2009: No. 10. Do They Know It’s Christmas? by Band-Aid

Well, here we are at the Top Ten songs on my Christmas Countdown 2009. While the first 20 songs were all significant in my life, these 10 hold an even greater significance, as they define my life and my connection with the Christmas season in a profound and meaningful way. I encourage you to countdown your top ten along with me in these remaining days leading up the Christmas Day. Build your top ten, and list your number ten in the comments thread to this post.

I have been shocked in recent years to find that there are people that absolutely dread this song when it comes on the radio. Perhaps you are one of them, and if you are, please let me know why it makes you turn off the radio every time it comes on. For me, I can’t imagine this song not being in the top ten of anybody who grew up in the eighties. It debuted in late November of 1984 in the UK and went immediately to number one on the charts, remaining the best-selling single for 13 years until Elton John released his tribute to Princess Diana, “Candle In The Wind.” Although it never hit the same peak in the United States, it has remained a constant in both the UK and in the United States for airplay during the holiday season.

The song, coupled with Live Aid in July of 1985, raised over $100 million to ease the widespread famine in Ethiopia during 1984-1985 due to a heavy drought season. Perhaps this is why the song means so much to me. Never before had I witnessed a single idea turn into such a meaningful and successful project that helped so many. It gave me the courage to go against the common laws of what people can and can’t do to help others. I learned that, with passion and commitment, anything is possible. It’s not always easy, but it’s possible. And if you see it through the bumps and the battles, you’ll achieve your goals.

Perhaps the first example of this for me was the 9/11 project, where a few friends got together right after the terrorist attacks in 2001 and made the commitment to document how Marylanders were reacting to the attacks. A year later, after receiving over 500 submissions from all areas of the state, we published the first volume of Maryland Voices. Now, Maryland Voices is in its eighth volume, and we continue to give individuals the space to publish the true stories that matter most in their world.

I think that’s where I found the strength to begin Lines of Love. We must work harder to reach out to our teens struggling with anxiety and depression. They need to know that they are not alone. We must believe that we can build that bridge to help them find the resources they need. It’s not easy to do this, but it’s necessary. What we go through to establish an organization is nothing compared to the struggles they face daily — sometimes hourly — as they battle depression. Why in the world wouldn’t we work as hard as we could to help them?

Like so many other songs in this countdown, it goes even deeper than that. It’s a way of life for me now to believe in the impossible, to believe that we can conquer evil and tough times with love and perseverance, that it’s not just a bunch of dreamy ideas and notions to believe in the concepts of love and peace and kindness. Helping others is possible; making a difference is all about your determination to make that change happen (how many of our eighties icons sang about this? I write this line and think of Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror”).

If you grew up with me in the eighties, you can look proudly back at the many messages we learned about love, kindness, giving, and hope and gain strength from them. We are now in a position where we can gain strength from those messages and do great things for our generation and those that will follow us. We can build upon that concept that anything is possible and, when the time comes, pass the torch and the confidence to our children and let them know that anything is possible. Anything is achievable. You just have to believe in yourself, believe in your cause, and believe in your friends and your community that they will believe as well.

(Paul Young)
It’s Christmas time
There’s no need to be afraid
At Christmas time
We let in light and we banish shade
(Boy George)
And in our world of plenty
We can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world
At Christmas time

(George Michael)
But say a prayer
Pray for the other ones
At Christmas time it’s hard
(Simon LeBon)
But when you’re having fun
There’s a world outside your window
(Sting) And it’s a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is
(Bono joins in)
The bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that are ringing
Are clanging chimes of doom
(Bono only) Well, tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.

And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time.
The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life
Where nothing ever grows
No rain or rivers flow
Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmas time
Feed the world
Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

(Paul Young)
Here’s to you
raise a glass for everyone
Here’s to them
underneath that burning sun
Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

Chorus (Everyone)
Feed the world
Feed the world
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmas time again

One thought on “Christmas Countdown 2009: No. 10. Do They Know It’s Christmas? by Band-Aid

  1. ok ive always been on the fence for this one– yes in the beginning i sang along… then became one of the turn that off the radio songs when i would hear it— not for the cause and what it stood for– im all into that and think it was an amazing effort for these musicians to come together for something like this… I guess the more i heard it and listened to the words I got bothered by it… the words like ” Thank God its them not you.” I would never wish that type of pain or hardship on someone else vs me…. why would I thank God it was them? Am I more deserving to not have pain and suffering… just didnt make sense to me when this was a song to raise money for a special cause. And the part of “they wont have snow in Africa”… Well mostly they dont have snow in Africa– just because its Christmas doesnt change this– I dont know– I guess I just didnt like alot of the lyrics to this song… and then it was played for over kill… which just killed it for me!


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