Tuesday, July 13, 2010

LiveAid, 25 Years Later

The media was (were?) buzzing today with reminders that it is the twenty-fifth anniversary of Live Aid. At the time, it was introduced as my generation's Woodstock. And maybe it wasn't for everyone, for me, I think that was true.

I hadn't actually planned on watching it, but somehow, I ended up turning on the television right near the beginning. I thought maybe I'd just watch until Madonna's performance, as she was my favourite at the time, but I got hooked. It's hard, now, to explain the impact of that concert, because so many things are culturally different. Back in 1985, VCRs were still relatively new, on-screen programming hadn't yet been invented, and taping things was complicated. TiVo and Personal TV were years and years in the future, as were endless internet replays. So if we wanted to watch something, we usually just did it in the moment. The offshoot of that was akin to something that many Canadians felt again this past February, during the men's gold medal hockey game: unity. Somehow, just knowing that so many others were sharing a live event with you - even if you were watching it alone - made you feel as if you were part of something huge.

Nowadays, it is common for performers to raise money through collaborative efforts. But in 1985, Band Aid and Live Aid were unique.

Five years ago I met someone who told me he'd just purchased the Live Aid DVDs. I reminisced about watching it live, seeing Madonna for the first time with auburn hair, and how it had influenced me. He had similar memories, and they joined us together with a common bond, twenty years later.

How cool is that?