The greatest gift they'll get this year is life

As most of you are probably aware, Live Aid, the cyclopean July 1985 benefit concert, featured hundreds of musicians from the UK and the US performing concurrently on the stages of Wembley Stadium in London and Vet's Stadium in Philadelphia to raise money towards famine in Africa.

At the risk of bumping up Soft Communication's word count to a billion and a half characters, I would like to post a link to a recent post on my own site: my long-winded but loving, nonetheless, and descriptive, I hope, Highlights of the Live Aid DVD rundown. If the thought of screening the four lengthy discs of the DVD turns your stomach, I recommend at least checking out the Live Aid site, or clicking through the images linked in my post.

I look forward to reading about everyone else's thoughts on Bob Geldof and Live Aid. And remember: There's a world outside your window / and it's a world of dread and fear / where the only water flowing / is the bitter sting of tears (you can sing along to a horribly charming midi version of the song here).


Blogger d said...

freddy truly steals the show. though I was disappointed about how dated it all seems. is it because it's still too close?

anywho, I'm dying to see the new bandaid video. I think the new version is TERRIBLE but that doesn't put a damper on my need to see the video.

2:37 PM, March 23, 2005  
Blogger Jenny said...

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4:37 PM, March 23, 2005  
Blogger Jenny said...

D, I couldn't agree more - Freddie had an amazing stage presence that's unmatched by so many musicians. He really looked like he was enjoying himself, and I feel that's what makes audiences feel good (as opposed to, say shoegazing rock or a performance style that's a little less engaging).

While I feel like some of the acts date the show a little (with defunct, as far as I know, bands like Style Council and Spandau Ballet performing), I hope that due to the organic nature of the event (so many acclaimed and emerging bands playing a collaborative show, with no headliners, thrown together in a very, very brief time period with no paycheck for them involved) will make the event last in pop culture history.

It's funny, though, that a music celebration like Woodstock is an event known to a lot of people around the world, but Live Aid hasn't held up quite as well in collective conscious: Some coworkers I've mentioned the DVD to are unfamiliar with Live Aid. Part of that could be less historical distance passed since its broadcast in 1985. And of course, Woodstock signified a very important social phenemonon (youth culture, a backlash against Vietnam, the disparity between old and new lifestyles), but Live Aid was a gargantuan humanitarian effort that actually helped the world (unlike Woodstock).

4:40 PM, March 23, 2005  
Blogger JLM said...

I wonder if the difference in current public perceptions of Woodstock and Live Aid stems from the higher level of coverage of the latter at the time. Live Aid played to millions and millions of people as it was happening, whereas, as far as I know, if you weren't actually at Woodstock, you didn't get to see any of it until the documentary came out a year later, and even then, I'm sure far fewer people saw it. Maybe the amount of time between the event and wider availability to an audience allowed the legend of it to grow enough that it just lodged itself there in the collective conscious (and obviously the social implications played a part). With Live Aid, though, everyone saw it at once, so then they just forgot about it. If they hadn't broadcast live all around the world and people had to wait a year or so to see it in theaters or on video, maybe its legend would have grown. But that would have more or less defeated the purpose of the event, so, in the end, it's for the best.

12:29 PM, March 24, 2005  
Blogger Jenny said...

I see what you mean -- the less Americans know about something, the more intriguing it becomes -- but I'm interested in how that reasoning applies to, say, war coverage in television? World War II was fought a half-decade before home television sets became popular; grisly images from the war in Vietnam were broadcasted every night to horrified American viewers in the 1960s and 70s. Of course, a musical event and a war are completely different from one another (although, Paul Virilio managed to tie in war and filmmaking so eloquently in "War and Cinema," and Wadleigh's Woodstock film is, as you said, the most accessible form of consumption for those who did not attend the actual concert). I suppose what I'm asking is, how does the accessibility of footage (or absolute saturation, as with Live Aid being shown to 1.5 billion viewers worldwide) from an event alter viewers' perceptions of the actual event being shown?

2:26 PM, March 24, 2005  
Blogger JLM said...

Well, basically, I guess that, since so many people around the world saw Live Aid when it happened, there wasn't as much clamoring after the fact to see it because everyone already had the chance. So even if people didn't watch it, they knew that they could have with the turn of a dial, and perhaps the mindset became, "Hey, if it was so damn easy to watch, it must not be that great, so why the hell should I care about it?"

But now it is finding at least some semblence of a mass interest from the public because of the fact that it was almost completely unavailable for twenty years and going to the store to buy a $30 DVD represents more effort than changing the channel on a TV.

2:49 PM, March 24, 2005  
Blogger Jeremy said...

But did anyone see the Tom Petty set at Live Aid? For some reason during "American Girl" he starts giving the audience the finger, which is really strange. I wonder what the story behing that is...

2:35 PM, March 26, 2005  

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