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Monday, January 13, 2003

We Are The World

Doesn't this bring back memories?

Yes, we are the world. We, rich pop stars, are the world. Everyone else, well, you're not the world. Or whatever.

"There's a choice we're making. We're saving our own lives." I never got that line either.

I know the standards shouldn't be that high for group charity recording, but the words to the Band Aid song "Do They Know It's Christmas" make a lot more sense. And they didn't claim to "be" the world.

The song (words and music) was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. OK, say you've got all this songwriting talent on hand. You've got Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, and Billy Joel. And you've got Lionel Richie working on writing the song they're going to sing? This is like having Phil Rizzuto batting cleanup on an all-time Yankees team.

Supposedly, Waylon Jennings left over a lyrics dispute. This is one of those times that I'm not sure I need a punchline here.

And another thing. Dan Aykroyd? What was up with that? What was he doing there? Why do people pretend he's a real singer? Although I guess if Jennifer Lopez can get away with it, I can't begrudge Dan too much.

(Pointless aside: I think I'm going to pit Aykroyd against Chevy Chase the way that Bill Simmons pitted DeNiro against Pacino. Which one of those guys approved more bad scripts, made more painfully unfunny comedies, turned in more lame performances? I think this would be a great late-night drunk-guys-in-a-college-dorm kind of argument. You have been warned, dear readers.)

The allmusic.com blurb on USA For Africa says that the above singers, plus numerous others, were told to "check their egos at the door." My memory, however, is of numerous performers trying to steal the show by hamming it up. I'm thinking especially of the Michael Jackson-Huey Lewis-Cyndi Lauper-Kim Carnes section on the bridge. I still have painful memories of Lauper's "whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa" screaming in particular, and then coming back to drown out poor one-hit wonder Kim Carnes as the song moves into the final chorus.

Remember the record album that came with this? The other songs, aside from the Canadian analogue to "We Are The World," "Tears Are Not Enough" by Northern Lights, where throwaway tracks by other artists. I didn't remember much about that song, except that it featured the high-pitched squeals of Rush's Geddy Lee. Click here for more info on them. It would figure that some Rush fanboy's website would be the place to find info on this. I just can't picture people being nearly as obsessive about, say, Anne Murray. Wow, Bryan Adams, multiple members of Loverboy, Anne Murray, and Gordon Lightfoot in the same place. Blame Canada indeed.

The original USA For Africa album also contained a worthwhile version of Jimmy Cliff's "Trapped" performed by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band.

There. Now maybe that damn song will get out of my head.


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