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Live Earth

PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2007 10:30 pm
by Gordon Neill
Contrary to the cynics, the Live Earth event has turned out to be an outstanding success. Where politicians have only added hot air, it’s starting to look as though our pop stars have ended global warming. I won’t go through all the gory details, but they all made a special contribution, with some flying on economy class, while others insisted on simply using the limo for the day. It only seems like a couple of months ago that we were sweltering in an unnaturally warm April, with worries looming about droughts, hosepipe bans, and endless requests for ice-lollies. But things have turned around quite dramatically and the Scottish Summer (5th to 18th July) is back to normal. I’d take my hats off these tune smiths if it wasn’t raining so hard. Again, history repeated itself last week, with the same cynics claiming that Di Aid was shit. But they should simply think of the comfort that the event provided to dead princesses the world over, and smirk again on the other side of their faeces.

The only surprising thing is that Live Earth’s success should come as such a surprise. There is a long and proud history of pop stars coming to the rescue and sorting things out. Band Aid is perhaps the most obvious example. It started out as a cry for help from elderly and forgotten pop stars but soon blossomed into an ambitious scheme to free the world and remind them when it was Christmas, even – indeed, especially - the ones that weren’t Christians. And look at the changes it brought about. Twenty years ago, Ethiopians were starving to death on pop videos. Nowadays, you’d hardly know they still existed. Bob Geldoff and Midget Ure started off as humble tune smiths but nowadays they are touchingly known by Ethiopians as simply ‘hoo’. And, thanks to the wonders of the internet, knowing the date of Christmas is just a simple ‘click’ away.

A generation earlier, the Concert for Bangladesh focussed on the plight of the Indian sub-continent, where their tummies were bloated from a diet that was clearly unhealthily high in saturated fats and cholesterol. Nowadays they have quite a successful cricket team and are rarely tiresome. Frankly, if any are still unable to know when it is Christmas, they have only themselves to blame.

But it was in fact Cliff Richard and Clodagh Rogers who, in the dark days of 1917, first set the pattern for singers bringing harmony to world affairs. The old world order was collapsing. Europe was engaged in civil war, with a whole generation of concert goers being wiped out in a senseless slaughter. The story of the Christmas Day football match is well known. What is less well known is that the unofficial anthem at the time, of both British and German troops, was in fact Cliff Richard’s prophetic ‘Goodbye Samantha, Hello Sam’. Within three years, Uncle Sam was indeed saying ‘hello’, and Samantha Fox’s chance of winning Wimbledon had gone for ever.

Similarly, Clodagh’s ‘I’m Just A Jack In A Box’ was seen by the establishment of the day as a harmless pop song designed to raise morale. It was in fact a searing indictment of the things people will do to get a hit record and was commonly hummed at the parades in front of the tomb of the unknown warrior. Sir Cliff’s influence went far beyond the pop charts. The artist Munch openly acknowledged ‘Summer Holiday’ as the inspiration behind his iconic painting ‘The Scream’.

Nowadays, a gnarled and suntanned Sir Cliff is typically modest. Ask if ‘Wired for Sound’ was in fact a catchy vision of the coming age of the internet, downloads and CCTV, and Sir Cliff will simply smile quietly and ask for more money. ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’ betrays a deep understanding of the human condition and anticipates our disconnected society. But Sir Cliff’s lips are sealed by an ungrateful generation with no sense of respect and too much Uhu.

Clodagh, in her own selfless manner, has slipped from the public’s gaze, but she is still engaged in good works. She was last seen in an episode of the bill, helping aged soap stars to look good. It is no accident that a young Mother Theresa obsessively collected first editions of ’Jack in a Box’ and, even in her latter years, was still able to do an inspiring version of ‘Come Back and Shake Me’ on the drums.

‘Mars Aid’, however, raises the stakes considerably. An ambitious plan is now being mooted to irrigate the ‘Red Planet’ and develop a network of concert venues. It has received the blessing of the United Nations, the Pope, and MTV. Despite their modest protestations, The Madonna, the Rolled Stones, the Artist Formally Known As the Artist Formally Known As Prince, U-Who, and all the other legendary stars of the pop world are being urged to lead the way on the first manned mission. We can only wish them a speedy and reasonably safe journey.