LONDON — One Direction, Ed Sheeran and a host of other stars are raising money to fight Ebola with a 30th anniversary version of the Band Aid charity single first recorded in aid of famine relief in Ethiopia.
Bob Geldof, one of the original Band Aid organizers, presented the song, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” for the first time on a TV talent show on Sunday.
Geldof urged people to download the song after its release on Monday. “We go to war. We’re going to stop this thing. Buy this song,” Geldof said. “This isn’t about me, it’s not about you, it’s not about them, it’s about us,” he said.
“The reason they did this is that this thing could arrive here on a plane at any time.”
At a news conference last week, Geldof reflected on the cruelty of Ebola, which is killed more than 5,000 around the world, and is spread by contact with the bodily fluids of a person infected with the virus. “Mothers can’t cradle their children; lovers can’t comfort each other; wives can’t hold their husbands’ hands while they die. That’s not right. It can be stopped,” Geldof said.
He also praised the “immensity of bravery” of those caring for Ebola patients in West Africa, where the worst affected nations are Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, including British healthcare workers and military.
The lineup for the 30th anniversary single combines some of those involved in the original recording in 1984 as well as fresh talent. Besides pop superstars One Direction, the artists signed up to take part include U2 frontman Bono, Coldplay’s Chris Martin and Ellie Goulding.
The new version of the track was recorded this weekend at the same London studios where the original was created. Some of the lyrics are updated to reflect the different circumstances of this crisis, 30 years on.
The lyric “where a kiss of love can kill you, and there’s death in every tear” replaces the former line “where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears.”
The much-criticized line, “there won’t be snow in Africa” line, is changed to “no peace and joy this Christmas in West Africa — the only hope they’ll have is being alive.”
And the lyric that even Bono admitted he “really, really loathed” is replaced by new words. “Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you” becomes instead “well tonight we’re reaching out and touching you.”