December 15, 2010

The sound of Christmas

I have a confession to make: I don't love Christmas. In fact, there's nothing much I like about it at all. Maybe it was all those years spent working in retail, listening to a loop of instrumental versions of carols on Woolies Radio or piped through the Small Electrics department. Maybe it's the rampant consumerism. Or maybe it just brings out the bah in my humbug.

Of course, I wasn't always a festive funbuster - and I have an annual reminder of that fact whenever Christmas playlists are wheeled out...

Picture it, Sydney, Christmas Day 1984. A young girl eagerly unwraps her presents until she comes to the penultimate package, the apex of her tween giftlist: the 7-inch single of Band Aid's 'Do they know it's Christmas'.

The giver of this gift was my big sister*, who had scoured every record shop in Sydney to find a copy because she knew how desperate I was to own it. It went straight onto the turntable, the volume turned up as high as my parents could bear. I think I may have even shed a tear.

All quibbles about musical quality aside (and recently Sir Bob Geldof quibbled about it himself), 'Do they know it's Christmas' will always whisk me back to my 11th Christmas, and the point in my life when music began to be more than just the background noise to pass-the-parcel. So when the video clip appeared on Rage the other morning I was mesmerised, as usual.

Of course, when I was younger I was too awed by the sight of all my fave pop stars in the same room and too busy singing along to prove that I knew all the words to notice the body language between some of the participants. I was particularly struck by how mightily pissed off Sting looks to be singing with Simon le Bon (at around the 1min. 10 secs mark). I suspect someone in the studio noticed too, because the next thing you see is Bono wedged between the two of them, and Simon's too scared to sing at all (1 min 24 secs). (Poor Simon. Rest assured that I (and 20 million other girls aged 10-14) still loved you.)

Here in all its glory is my one festive tradition. Marvel at Sting's Prince Valiant haircut! Be awed by Paul Young's mullet! Gasp at Phil Collins' little knitted vest! Shake your head incredulously at the synchronised guitar 'playing' by members of Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and other-not-very-musically-credible-groups!

* who loves Christmas enough for both of us

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