Don Jones

Tech | Career | Musings

I’ve been streaming various SiriusXM Christmas stations (I do enjoy holiday music, provided it happens after my birthday). And I’ve always known this was a stupid song, but I heard an acoustic version just now and… man.

So, I get that this was originally a “Band Aid” song meant to raise money for starving children in Ethiopia. I get it. I love the sentiment. But can we not have non-stupid lyrics?

It’s Christmastime, there’s no need to be afraid
At Christmastime, we let in light and we banish shade
And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime
But say a prayer, to pray for the other ones
At Christmastime
 
Sure, fine. The world is scary, but let’s put that aside for Christmas. And I’m not even upset with the banality of the lyrics; most popular Christmas songs are pretty banal, even once you discount the ones from the Victorian era. I mean, George Harrison’s “Ding Dong Ding Dong” isn’t winning any literary awards, but it’s harmless fun, right?
 
 
It’s hard, but when you’re having fun
There’s a world outside your window
And it’s a world of dread and fear
 
I mean, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but… I guess it rhymes. No?
 
 
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring there
Are the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you
 
OK, that’s definitely a little overdramatic. And I mean, at this point, we still don’t even know who we’re supposed to be feeling bad about. On Christmas. Sure, lay on the holiday guilt, but let’s give it some focus?
 
 
And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime
 
Yeah, it absolutely snows in Africa, and frequently does so before Christmastime. The snows of Kilimanjaro, the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, and across northern Africa are all places with snow. South Africa has regular snowfall as well. Maybe it won’t have snow in Ethiopia, but I’m pretty sure that’s a norma thing. The locals might well be alarmed if it snowed at Christmastime. And look, I live in Las Vegas. It doesn’t snow here at Christmastime either, usually, and we didn’t get a song lamenting the fact. We all moved here because of the lack of snow.
 
 
The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life
 
Um. That’s the greatest gift we all get. Apart from a Segway, obviously. Everything else is just materialism, right? BTW, I totally want a Segway if you’re looking for shopping ideas.
 
 
Oh, where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow
 
So, lots of stuff grows in Africa. Maybe not the equatorial desert, which again is where I suspect our guilt is meant to be directed, but you could, like, aim for a slight amount of credibility. Africa is one of the lushest continents on Earth. It rains a lot. It has the biggest rainforests, which actually have the word rain in them. To say nothing of the Nile River, which is the biggest one in the world. Rivers flow there, my friend. This song is just… ignorant. 
 
 
Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?
Here’s to you, raise a glass for ev’ryone
Here’s to them, underneath that burning sun
Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?
 
They may not give a crap, actually. While Christianity is prevalent throughout Africa (and one presumes the Christians there are well-acquainted with the Christmas schedule), other major religions include Islam, the many traditional African religions, Hinduism, Baha’i Faith, Buddhism, Judaism, and more. One supposes the Hindus, as one example, couldn’t care less about whether it’s Christmastime. And apparently, some two-thirds of Ethiopians (again, presuming that’s where Band Aid is focused) are Christian (they even have their own branch, called Ethiopian Orthodoxy, and an Ethiopian was a front-runner for pope last time ’round), and I bet a lot of them have been made aware of Christmastime. There’s probably a memo.
 
I’m on board with the “raise a glass” part, though. Good part, that.
 
Aside: this is half like one of those “raising awareness” campaigns. “Hey, Africa doesn’t know it’s Christmastime! We can’t solve any of their problems, but we can raise awareness with a song!”
 
Sorry. I’m all for fundraising and sappy Christmas songs (truly I am; Snoopy vs. the Red Baron Christmastime has been a favorite since childhood), but this song is just inane. I love Little Drummer Boy, which is an objectively silly song, but it’s got a lovely cadence.
 
“Clanging chimes of doom?” Jeez, guys. And I know I’m not the only one to be irritated by it. It just came up today, so I thought I’d vent. Thanks for listening.
 
Oh, and I know they did a new version about Ebola instead of famine. It’s got winning lyrics like:
 
Where a kiss of love can kill you, and there’s death in every tear.
 
FML. What. A. Downer.
 
But there’s hope: Richard Cheese has an unabashed and absolutely terrif(ying|ic) lounge club version. And there’s this epic Snoopy mashup version.
 
 
Songwriters: Bob Geldof / Midge Ure; Do They Know It’s Christmas? lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

One thought on “Sorry. This is a Stupid Christmas Song.

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