21 December 2012

Faith Hill: Where Are You, Christmas?

You should know that here at Lyrics, Weakly, we are at this moment treading on the knife’s edge of danger.

It’d be reasonable, of course, to ask why—so i’ll tell you.

It’s because this week i’m taking on my oldest child’s favorite Christmas song ever, the 2000 tune “Where Are You, Christmas?” as performed by Faith Hill in its adult contemporary top-ten form, as adapted from the Taylor Momsen version (as Cindy Lou Who, in the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas)—and if you haven’t ever met a teenage whose music has just been dissed, well, you just haven’t lived yet.

(Fortunately, though, she may never get to read this if the Mayans were right, so at least there’s some hope for me.)

By the way, if you clicked on the link to the Faith Hill version of the song, please let me know if it’s just me, or if Ms Hill looks surprisingly like David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King in it.

Fun fact: According to this song’s Wikipedia page (motto: Now with 30% more truthiness!), Mariah Carey was originally going to be the one to sing the song, but Ms Hill ended up getting the gig due to some legal issues. I think this was good for us all, if only to maintain the karmic balance of the universe. After all, if Ms Carey had recorded this song as well as “All I Want for Christmas Is You”, then the speakers at round-the-clock Christmas music stations would probably explode from all the unnecessary high notes.

Anyway, enough with the intro, and on to the lyrics!

Where are you, Christmas?

See, here’s a problem right in the first line.

So, Ms Hill, you’re singing here to a personified holiday, which is kind of weird, but whatever.

However, the holiday you’re singing to doesn’t exist in space, it exists in time—and therefore, the answer to a question about where Christmas is would have to be mu. (Basically, if you can’t be bothered to read through that whole thing, the place where Christmas is is the same as the sound of one hand clapping—it doesn’t exist.)

Now if you’d asked “When are you, Christmas?” we’d have an answer for you right away: 24  or 25 December in most of the world, but 6, 7, or 19 January in a few places (including, notably, Russia).

There, problem solved. But for some reason Ms Hill continues with…

Why can’t I find you?

I already answered this one above. You’re welcome.

Why have you gone away?

Because, under most circumstances, time progresses in a unidirectional linear fashion. Therefore, by living and progressing through time, Christmas has receded into the past relative to you, and Christmas (though a different one, thus opening the door to more philosophy) will not arrive until the next 24  or 25 December (or 6, 7, or 19 January, depending on where you’re living at the time).

Where is the laughter
You used to bring me?

In the past. Once again, see above.

Why can’t I hear music play?

I don’t know the answer to this one, really. I mean, you’re in a music studio singing this, so one would suppose that you’re hearing a lot of music playing. Maybe you should ask the recording engineer to fix the studio monitors, or at least check the acoustics to find out what’s wrong?

My world is changing

Ah! So you’re finally getting the whole transitory nature of timebound existence thing! Good on you!

I’m rearranging

Pablo Picasso would have been so proud of you!

(Just to take a break from the snark for a second, though, i have to say that, truly and honestly, this line makes no sense at all.)

Does that mean Christmas changes, too?

Well, it depends, doesn’t it? I mean, you can’t really change Christmases in the past, but those in the future aren’t yet set in stone (well, depending on whether you’re into the whole predestination thing or not, i guess). So maybe Christmas hasn’t changed, but possibly will?

Where are you, Christmas?

Like i already said, Christmas isn’t a…never mind. I’ll just head into the corner to sigh about the state of American education a bit.

Do you remember
The one you used to know?

Christmas, being a time rather than a sentient entity, presumably does not remember anything.

You’re welcome.

I’m not the same one
See what the time’s done
Is that why you have let me go?

See, Ms Hill came so close here. Yes, time has changed you, but Christmas has not actively participated in those changes.

Got it? Good. Let’s see how things go now.

Christmas is here

Um, okay. I mean, if you sang this on 25 December, then sure.

Everywhere, oh

Actually, this isn’t true, even if you’re singing on 25 December—for example, on that date it isn’t Christmas in Russia, since it won’t be Christmas there until 7 January.

Christmas is here
If you care, oh

You know, even though i keep trying to explain basic concepts of logic and reality to you, i will admit that i have pretty much ceased to care. I suppose that means it isn’t Christmas yet, right?

If there is love in your heart and your mind
You will feel like Christmas all the time

Fortunately, contrary to widespread urban legend, Christmas is not accompanied by increased depression. Otherwise, this song would have suddenly gone very, very dark, you know?

I feel you Christmas

Okay, never mind—this is a creepy enough image that it’s gone dark anyway.

I know I’ve found you

It’s not hard to do, provided you have a calendar with the right entries on it.

You never fade away
The joy of Christmas
Stays here inside us
Fills each and every heart with love

Except for the hearts of those it doesn’t, of course.

Where are you, Christmas?
Fill your heart with love

And that’s the end of the song—yes, after four minutes of refusing to understand the way time (and our usual method of tracking time by using calendar dates) works, Ms Hill offers us a non sequitur. Weird, but whatever.

Anyway, that’s all for today. Since i assume that you, gentle reader, can read and understand a calendar, i wish you an enjoyable Christmas, even if Christmas isn’t your thing.

And whether it is or not, here’s a bit of Christmas randomness for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

14 December 2012

NewSong: The Christmas Shoes

So this makes two weeks in a row for Lyrics, Weakly, thus making it the first time we’ve lived up to the pun in our name in a long, long time.

Let the throwing of confetti commence!

And what song is so remarkably bad that it got me to actually post something so soon? None other than the 2000 hit (#1 on the US adult contemporary chart!) “The Christmas Shoes”, by the Christian rock (ahem, sorry, make that “rock”) band NewSong, in which we learn that the way they perform music is by standing around, emotionless and impassive, while one of them sings the lyrics. (For some reason, incidentally the “the” in the song’s title annoys me. Well, actually, the entire song annoys me, so maybe that isn’t unexpected.)

(I would have done “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” this week, but let’s face it, that anthem to getting your date drunk for sexual purposes has already been taken down by lots of people, even in the line by line format that I use, so much that i wasn’t going to be able to add anything new. This one, though, is widely criticized for being schmaltzy, but i haven’t seen much talking about how utterly dumb the story is.)

And yes, i realize that a lot of people hate this song, but a lot of people love it—remember, this song was a #1 hit. Ponder, o ye mighty, and despair!

Because, as the ice piano plays, we learn that…

It was almost Christmas time, there I stood in another line

And, to be honest, it’s not a bad start. The song runs just short of five minutes long, so it makes sense that Eddie Carswell and Leonard Ahlstrom, the writers of the song, would give us the setting right at the outset: It’s nearly Christmas time (so mid- to late December, i’m thinking, especially given the next line), and the narrator of the song is standing in a line at a store somewhere.

Incidentally, it’s just too weird to talk about Messrs. Carswell and Ahlstrom when talking about the narrator of this song (since he refers to himself in the singular), and so since Mr. Ahlstrom had the good sense to bail on the band right about the time this song came out, for the rest of this entry i’m going to blame Mr. Carswell for it. (Besides, according to NewSong’s Wikipedia page Mr. Carswell was one of the founding members of the band, so without him the whole thing could never have taken place at all.)

So anyway—Mr. Carswell is standing in line. Why is he standing in line?

Trying to buy that last gift or two, not really in the Christmas mood

Yeah, i know how it goes—there’s always that one person on your list who’s just impossible to shop for, and then you have to wait in line to purchase whatever you end up choosing…It can be very non-fun.

Or you could just shop on Amazon. Not only would you not have to stand in line, you would have never experienced the events of this song, leading you to never have written it—a win for you, and a win for us!

Standing right in front of me was a little boy waiting anxiously
Pacing ’round like little boys do


I mean, yeah, some folks pace, sure. But pacing ’round like little boys do implies that little boys pacing is something that all or nearly all little boys do.

Mr. Carswell, i don’t know about you, but i was once a little boy, and i didn’t pace. I fidgeted plenty, sure, but pacing? Nope—and i haven’t seen many little boys pace, especially not when standing in line at a store to buy something.

Basically, i’m suspecting you haven’t, you know, actually observed little boys in stores. This isn’t a bad thing, of course, it just leads to a bit of mental whiplash—and that doesn’t bode well when it comes in the fourth line of a five-minute song.

And in his hands he held a pair of shoes

This, at least, makes sense. Most places, you want to buy a pair of shoes, you carry ’em to the counter. So maybe Mr. Carswell does know something about normal people and the ways they shop.

His clothes were worn and old, he was dirty from head to toe

If you had the stomach to make it through the video for this song, you will perhaps have noticed how utterly clean and all-American wholesome the boy is (along with his whole family). Guess being dirty didn’t play well in Peoria.

And when it came his time to pay
I couldn’t believe what I heard him say

I’d be pretty thunderstruck, myself, since what the kid says is the chorus to a #1 song, and yet the rhyme scheme is totally messed up—and just so that you can get the whole horror of it, i’m going to show you the whole thing before i talk about it.

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please
It’s Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there’s not much time
You see she’s been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight

Okay, let’s take this piece by piece.

First of all: Kid wants to buy shoes for his mother. Not the usual sort of gift a kid gets for a parent, but he apparently did enough research to know what her shoe size is, so it all works.

We also find out that it’s Christmas Eve, which means that Mr. Carswell was stretching things a little when he said at the beginning of the song that it was almost Christmas time—sorry, dude, you procrastinated. Fortunately, you’re not alone in that.

The kid’s in a hurry, though—apparently his father told him there’s not much time. And not much time for what? wonders the na├»ve bystander, blissfully unaccustomed to such glurge…Well, i’ll tell you:

It’s DEATH!!1!1!!1!11!!

Yep, that’s right, this kid has gone to the store, away from his dying mama, so that he can buy her a pair of shoes that she can die in.

And not just a pair of shoes she can die in, but a pair of shoes that’ll make her look pretty for Jesus.

Okay, see, this is wrong on too many levels to list—but here’s my initial thoughts, in no particular order:

  • Wasn’t one of Jesus’s big things that we shouldn’t cling too much to the things of this world, but that we should give to others? I mean, i guess that’s what the kid’s doing in some odd way, but someone with that philosophy probably isn’t going to be impressed by a pair of shoes, you know?
  • At least, though, this vignette lets us know something about Mr. Carswell’s theology, which is that you can take it with you. (Or at least that you can take your shoes with you.)
  • I know, it’s probably just me, but every time i hear this i get this image of people hanging out in heaven, wearing nothing but the shoes they died in and being really catty about them. “You mean you let yourself die while wearing those old things? How gauche!”

I mean, i’ve never died, and i’ve never even gone through a long sickness where it looked like i was going to die, but my suspicion is that if i ever am that sick, caring about shoes isn’t going to be at the top of my list, and i really hope it isn’t at the top of my kids’ lists.

But apparently that just makes me an evil heartless bastard who just doesn’t get The True Meaning of Christmas℠, as we’ll discover by the end of this song.

But that’s okay, ’cause even with his misplaced priorities, at least the kid has a plan, and maybe it’s done him good coming up with this, you know, to keep his mind off of impending death and all that.

He counted pennies for what seemed like years

Wait—he’s paying in pennies?!?

Then the cashier said, “Son, there’s not enough here”
He searched his pockets frantically

And so the kid didn’t have a plan? You mean he just left his dying mother to go shopping at the mall? You mean the whole buying shoes thing was an accident? What kind of psychopath-to-be is this child, anyway?

Then he turned and he looked at me

Because looking at the person behind you in line is what you does when you don’t have enough money to buy something, thought nobody ever.

He said Mama made Christmas good at our house
Though most years she just did without

Once again, the disjunction between the content of this song and the visuals of the video would amuse, if they weren’t quite so lame.

And really, what little kid actually speaks like this? I mean, really, read it as prose: Mama made Christmas good at our house, though most years she just did without. Now imagine it coming from the lips of a ragamuffin ten-year-old boy. Can’t do it, can you? That’s because actual real human kids don’t speak this way!

True story: This song was inspired by a chain email from back in the 90s called “Golden Slippers”. Yes, this song was based on an urban legend email hoax, so you know it must be quality!

Next week, NewSong releases a song about getting drunk with strangers and waking up with a missing kidney.

(At least in the original the kids wanted to buy their mother gold-colored shoes so they’d match the gold-paved streets of heaven. In this song, it’s all about being pretty for Jesus. I don’t like either sentiment, but if forced, i’ll admit to being more impressed behind the thought of the first one.)

Tell me Sir, what am I going to do,
Somehow I’ve got to buy her these Christmas shoes

See, if i’m the guy in the song, i’m thinking scam here. This kid just told an immensely improbable story about a dying mother who he’s abandoned to die on Christmas Eve so he can buy shoes for her, and i’m supposed to believe this? I know a setup when i hear it kid, get outta here before i call for security.

So I laid the money down, I just had to help him out

But Mr. Carswell is a more trusting sort than i am, so he pays for the shoes.

I’ll never forget the look on his face when he said
Mama’s gonna look so great

Especially since she just got her New Year’s Eve dancing shoes for free, just like mama told me it’d work!

And then we get the chorus again. Instead of making you read through it here, i’ll just note that this song (which, remember, was “inspired” by a chain email) itself led to both a book and a movie. Yes, that’s right, a full-length (made-for-TV) movie.

The current version of the movie’s Wikipedia page includes a plot synopsis, which gives names to the characters: the narrator of the song is named Robert, the little kid is named Nathan, and Nathan’s mother is Maggie. So various things happen and then Robert’s mother dies, after which Robert helps Nathan buy the shoes for Maggie, and then finally Maggie dies.

The end of the synopsis reads: The scene then cuts to the cemetery where Robert is visiting his mother’s grave, 17 years later. He runs into a young man wearing the same baseball cap Nathan had been wearing. After he leaves, Robert sees that the man had been visiting Maggie’s grave, and recognizes the shoes the man had left at the grave. Robert then realizes that the young man was Nathan.

This is even more disturbing than the song, ’cause it turns out that the kid never even gave the shoes to his mother—he just bought them to buy them!

(And “wearing the same baseball cap Nathan had been wearing” seventeen years earlier? I mean, i don’t even remember what my wife was wearing as we drove off from our wedding reception a bit less than seventeen years ago, and this guy recognizes a baseball cap?? I mean, i guess that makes sense, since no two baseball caps are alike, but it still rings a bit off to me.)

And now we’re at the bridge…

I knew I’d caught a glimpse of heaven’s love
As he thanked me and ran out

See, it’s lines like this that have contributed to the world’s oversupply of treacle, and until the situation is rectified there won’t be enough demand to bring back the treacle mines that produce the stuff us gourmands know to be the best, no matter how much cheaper the artificial mass-produced stuff is.

I’m just thinking the boy was glad he wasn’t going to have to end up giving his mother the hat he’d knitted for her.

I knew that God had sent that little boy
To remind me just what Christmas is all about

That’s right. God made the kid’s mom sick, and made sure the boy was poor and dirty (for the video, read: upper-middle-class—though out of money—and freshly scrubbed) enough to tug at your heartstrings, just so that you could learn The True Meaning of Christmas℠. Sorry, Mr. Carswell, but i’m thinking you’re not really that important, you know?

And then a children’s chorus kicks in to end the song with a repeat of the chorus. Seriously, by this point it doesn’t sound cute, it sounds like the kids’ voices in The Haunting.

(And i was going to repeat the chorus here just like it's done in the song, but i can’t bring myself to do it. Instead, enjoy a Christmas song with an uplifting message the way it should be done. See you next week.)

07 December 2012

Band Aid: Do They Know It’s Christmas?

So here at Lyrics, Weakly headquarters there hasn’t been muchany blogging going on for quite a while.

Yeah. Well, we’ve been…busy? Had to rake the leaves falling from the birch tree in the front yard, you know. (Sidebar: Who came up with the idea that birch trees are good landscaping elements? And are they still around, so that we can round them up and do mean things to them?) So, of course, new posts haven’t gone up.

But it’s December, and you know what that means: Endless Christmas songs on the radio! And, of course, most of those songs are really just not that good.

There are two types of not really good Christmas songs, though. First, there are the badly done versions of Christmas songs that have been around for a while, clearly just done to get some royalty payments when the annual Christmas song gorgefest comes around. (Yes, Barbara Streisand may be a singing genius, but her rendition of “Jingle Bells”? Please, no.) The second category is where today’s entry falls: Original compositions about Christmas that really, really, really don’t work.

And with that, i present for you Band Aid’s syrupy 1984 masterwork, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?

Now, before i go any further, i want to say that when Bob Geldof and Midge Ure wrote this song (people usually forget Mr. Ure’s contribution to the song, since Mr. Geldof is rather more famous, so i figure i might as well do the same from this point on, ’cause it’s easier to write about one person than a group), the sentiment was precisely spot-on. I mean, for those of us who were around then, the mid-80s Ethiopian famine was heartrending—all these people dying and we couldn’t do anything. Well, most of us, at least—some people had the means to put plans into operation, and Mister Geldof was one of those. He got a bunch of really, really famous mostly-British rock stars together to have them record the song, and the rest is history.

So Mr. Geldof wrote a song for charity, and it was successful—and i’ve seen various numbers for how much it raised for famine relief floating around the interwebs, but $14 million seems to be the most widely cited figure. So good for him and everyone else associated with the song.

Anyway, the song starts with dome foreboding minor-key tonality, very doomy, which is kind of cool for a Christmas song. Fitting for one that has to address human suffering and all.

But the lyrics! Ah, the lyrics…

It’s Christmas time
There’s no need to be afraid

Well, that’s a relief. I mean, given the fact that 68% of the population suffers from a phobia of Christmas…Oh, wait, you mean they don’t? Oh, well, then, i suppose it really is true that there’s no need to be afraid.

For the record, i did find one site that lists “xristougennaphobia” as the fear of Christmas, but i think it says something about how made upwidespread that is that it only shows up on that one page in a Google search. (Well, two, once this page gets indexed by Google’s all-knowing database.)

I also found a lot of listings for “christougenniatiko dentrophobia”, which was defined as the fear of Christmas trees.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around that one.

(Best discussion of the effects of christougenniatiko dentrophobia, by the way, from a page that seems to be serious, giving advice to aspiring fiction writers: “A person with this phobia would most likely not grow Christmas trees for a living. Since all live Christmas trees are a type of pine tree, is a person with this phobia afraid of pine trees year-round? Or just at Christmas time? Could they be afraid of them because of bugs they could bring in the house? Or maybe it is the possibility of the tree catching fire that scares them. Are they also afraid of artificial Christmas trees? And does the tree have to be decorated for them to fear it?”)

At Christmas time
We let in light and we banish shade

I would just like to say, as a resident of Alaska, that this is not possible, at least in the northern latitudes (and the British Isles aren’t in the far north, but even London, near the south end of the islands, is up there with Calgary, of all places). If you open the curtains at Christmas time in the northern hemisphere, you get…dark, at least for most of the day. The opposite of light. In order to provide light, you have to flip a switch or light a candle or something in your house.

I mean, c’mon, people, this is basic kid-level earth science!

And in our world of plenty
We can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world
At Christmas time

Okay, this is a softball, but one i have to take: Those are some really long arms!

These lines, though, are delivered by Boy George, and they’re worth a listen to remind us of how just absolutely amazing his voice was before he went all VH1 Behind the Music on us.

(Admit it—you were totally expecting that last link to be this one, weren’t you?)

Anyway, at this point the music changes and we get an uptempo rhythm (largely courtesy of Phil Collins, taking a break from ruining the band Genesis) sounding much like…well, actually, sounding like every single other uptempo synthpop song released in the mid-80s, and the lyrics continue.

But say a prayer
Pray for the other ones

So we’re supposed to pray for The Others? Why? According to the Wikipedia page for the movie, it’s done quite well for itself without any prayers on our part.

(Yeah, yeah, i know. After reading that, though, you may be happy to learn that there are plays on words out there that are even worse.)

At Christmas time, it’s hard

I single out this line just because i can’t make any sense of it. The lack of punctuation between lines in the source i was able to find doesn’t make it easier, but all i can figure is that it’s supposed to follow from the preceding lines, so that it reads But say a prayer, pray for the other ones—at Christmas time, it’s hard, and that doesn’t make any sense, really. Maybe it’s supposed to go with what follows? Well, that’s worse: At Christmas time, it’s hard, but when you’re having fun there’s a world outside your window, and it’s a world of dreaded fear.

So all i can figure is that At Christmas time, it’s hard is supposed to be a standalone sentence, not syntactically connected to the phrases either preceding or following it. Unless this is a something about the widely-held but false belief that Christmastime is associated with mental illness, it seems just a throwaway attempt to get from George Michael to Simon Le Bon.

Anyway—sorry about the grammatical aside. I’m a linguist by profession, though, so i can’t really help it.

But when you’re having fun
There’s a world outside your window
And it’s a world of dreaded fear

Okay, so here’s where we start to go properly off the rails.

They’re trying to say that right outside your window, while you’re having fun at Christmas, people are starving in Ethiopia—essentially, it’s guilt trip time! Now, of course, Ethiopia isn’t literally right outside the windows of this song’s target market, but that’s okay—i’ll happily let them be figurative here.

But dreaded fear? I mean, could this be a little bit clumsier? After all, what other kinds of fear are there? Welcomed fear? Appealing fear? Pleasing fear?

Sometimes you just want to shake your head, you know? I mean, Mr. Geldof, you’re the guy who wrote “I Don’t Like Mondays”, which is full of amazingly turned lines about a horrific event, so we know you’ve got the ability. But dreaded fear? Srsly?

Anyway, enough rant. Back to…

Where the only water flowing
Is a bitter sting of tears

Now i realize that we didn’t Wikipedia to answer all our questions back in 1984, but this. I mean, Mr. Geldof, couldn’t you at least be bothered to look at an atlas? The Blue Nile, for heaven’s sake, originates in Ethiopia!

And the Christmas bells that ring there
Are the clanging chimes of doom

Actually, no.

Ethiopia (and Eritrea, which has since become independent but was part of Ethiopia at the time) are both majority-Christian nations, and they have a number of churches that, presumably, could ring bells on Christmas—and even though i’m not actually there to confirm this, i’m pretty sure that they’d choose bells that sound at least minimally joyous on what is, after all, one of their big celebration days.

And then, finally, we get to Bono shouting out…

Well, tonight thank God, it’s them
Instead of you

Let’s take a step back for a moment and consider.

There are a lot of people out there who hate this song. A lot. And, in my review preparing for this entry, this line was mentioned by approximately every single one of them. (In fact, if you simply google this line you get several of them fairly high in the results. Of course, you also get a few defenses of the line, but at least a couple of them also claim that Wham!’s “Last Christmas” is a great Christmas song, so they can of course be dismissed as simply ludicrous.)

I mean, it’s arguably the most clearly sung line in the whole song, and it’s sung with a fervor that nothing else in the whole thing is. Further, it’s even the structural fulcrum of the entire piece, with the following lines coming at a rather more frenzied pace.

And Bono—dear, dear Bono—with all he’s done to try to improve the world, gets remembered for this.

(Actually, i did run across a claim that Bono objected to it, but that Mr. Geldof insisted on it being sung as written. If this is true, then it seems that Mr. Geldof didn’t just play someone with a bit of a dictator complex.)

I like to wonder, though, what such a thanks to deity would sound like. “Dear Lord, we are thankful to thee that thou hast made those people in Ethiopia to starve, and not us.” Now, i don’t precisely no what the response of deity to such a prayer might be, but i do know what it’d be if i were the one so addressed.

And then we get a lesson in climatology…

And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time

And you know why? Because, a couple of very specific locations aside, there’s nearly never snow in Africa. In fact, snow in Africa is an event worthy of international headlines.

This is simply a fact of geography and climate. I mean, just look at a map, for starters! The vast majority of the African continent lies in the tropics—absent really insanely high elevation, you don’t get snow.

But you want to know the best part of all this? It’s that the claim about no snow in Ethiopia actually isn’t even technically true. Yes, most of Ethiopia is completely snow-free, due to the aforementioned tropic-ness of the place. But Ethiopia also contains the Semien Mountains, where snow can accumulate in the winter. (Skiing, though, would be difficult.

The greatest gift they'll get this year is life

Um, just to be non-snarky for a moment here: Isn’t that true of all of us?

I mean, i don’t care how much you wanted that particular gift, if you’re dead it’s not going to mean as much to you.

(Clearly, the shelf life on non-snarky is short here.)

Where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow

See above on the fact that there are rivers in Ethiopia. Quite a few rivers, in fact.

There’s also rain in Ethiopia. Yes, the mid-80s had record low rainfall in much of the country, but it certainly rains there.

And things also grow in Ethiopia. In fact, agricultural products make up 80%  of Ethiopian exports, according to what i could find on the web.

Yes, yes, i realize that the popular conception is that Ethiopia is a desert, but it’s not actually true. Once again, Mr. Geldof, would it have hurt so much to look in an atlas?

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

Well, since (as already mentioned) Ethiopia and Eritrea are both majority-Christian nations, i would have to say that yes, they do know it’s Christmas time, thank you very much.

But what difference would it make? I mean, are you saying they need calendars, too?

But yeah, there’s a pretty good-sized Muslim population in both countries, and so there may well be villages and towns that are entirely unaware that it’s Christmas time, because the entire population is Muslim. And you know what? Come in close, listen carefully, because this is an important secret about those villages: They don’t care!

Now, they may well care whether it’s Eid al-Adha or not, but you know what? They already know.

Here’s to you
Raise your glass for everyone
Here's to them
Underneath that burning sun

So what do we learn from these lines? That when faced with hunger in a distant land, the proper response is to get drunk and party.

Um, yeah. Well, whatever works for you, i guess.

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

Again, yes. Or no. But it doesn’t really matter, you know?

Feed the world
Feed the world
Feed the world

In all seriousness, i didn’t know what these lines were until i wrote up this post. Nice sentiment, it’s just a pity that it had to get stuck in a song like this.

And then we get this on repeat and fade:

Let them know it’s Christmas time again
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmas time again
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmas time again
Feed the world

It can’t be just me who hears this and thinks it’s pretty much a “Neener neener neener! We know it’s Christmas time! So there!”

But in all seriousness, why should it matter to you whether they know it’s Christmas time? If what you want is to feed people, then send them a pizza, no matter the day. I mean, there’s really no connection at all, is there? (Or at least there shouldn’t be.)

So now we’ve got a logical inconsistency to go along with everything else, what with the whole Christmas-famine relief non sequitur.

Anyway, this little gem was released in 1984. In an attempt to redeem the year, here’s a better (though, admittedly, darker) song released the same year, and it even had the year in the title! Enjoy.