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On being a fan of Bob Geldof’s music

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Apparently it’s quite weird that I want to go see Bob Geldof in concert. (For the third time, no less.) People seem to find it as strange as if I said–I don’t know–that I had tickets to see Bill Clinton. Play saxophone.

In that, it’s not as if Bob Geldof isn’t famous. He’s the Live Aid guy; the one who gets interviewed about African issues; who is an occasional guest editor of national newspapers; who won the knighthood decades before Paul McCartney, Elton John, Bono, and Mick Jagger did; and who is the father of all those girls with weird names (Pixie, Fifi, Tigerlilly, Peaches…).

It’s just that he’s no longer thought of as a musician.

A friend of mine kind of summed up what the world thinks: “Really interesting guy. But I don’t like his music.”

To which I say, Oh, really?

Because it appears to me that most North Americans know exactly two Bob Geldof songs:

  1. I Don’t Like Mondays
  2. Do They Know It’s Christmas?

And that they love both of them. One is the prototypical 1980s song; the other one the prototypical pop Christmas song. When Electric Thursdays does 80s music; “Mondays” is the big encore everybody is thrilled about. At their Christmas concert? Yes, the Band Aid song gains the standing ovation at the end.

I heard this song first via this video–on TV Ontario, of all things

But people have no idea what else Bob Geldof has done (musically).

So this is how I became a fan.

I stuck with The Boomtown Rats longer than most

This seems largely forgotten now, but everywhere except the US (where, thanks to “Mondays” getting banned, the Rats weren’t even a one-hit wonder), the Boomtown Rats were a very popular band in their time. They spent 123 weeks on the UK charts, including two songs at number one (the other being “Rat Trap”). In Canada, they played hockey arenas, and appeared on SCTV.

I became a fan of the Rats the same way everyone else did—after I heard “I Don’t Like Mondays”. It’s just that I stuck with them longer than most. I was not deterred by the “world music” sounds of Mondo Bongo (the album after the “Mondays” one), nor the dark themes permeating the amazing V Deep, VI Shallow. Judging by sales figures, others were a little put off by this. But I remained a fan to the end (that being the sixth and last album, In the Long Grass.)

One of my favorite songs from V Deep VI Shallow: Talking in Code, live

I saw Bob Geldof live

Bob’s first solo album, Deep in the Heart of Nowhere, in wake of Live Aid and all, was something of a success, with the hit single, “This Is the World Calling”. I got that at the time (my favorite song was “Pulled Apart by Horses”), but honestly, like most people, I then lost track of his musical career. “The Great Song of Indifference” was a big hit most places, but Canada followed the States in ignoring it.

A live version of The Great Song of Indifference

So when I went see him in concert in 2002, it was mostly due to Boomtown Rats nostalgia. And he did a reasonable sampling of those tunes, but also quite a few from the solos albums I had missed, and therefore didn’t know: the Irish jig-infused Vegetarians of Love and The Happy Club.

The fun My Hippie Angel, from The Happy Club

But no matter: I loved the show. As I wrote at the time, it was–and remains–one the best I’ve ever seen.

I bought all his solo albums

After that show, I picked up the two albums I’d missed, and I listened more to the one I’d picked up shortly before the show: Sex, Age, and Death. It would prove to become one of my favorite albums by anyone, ever.

One for Me by Bob Geldof, clearly inspired by now late but then merely former Mrs. Geldof, Paula Yates

And when his new one, the hilariously titled How to Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell came out last year, I bought that. It’s quite varied in style, but consistent in high quality.

Why I’m fan

It’s pretty simple, really. I’m a fan of music of Bob Geldof’s music because I listen to it.

You are not a fan only because you do not listen to it. It is not played on radio, it is no longer a big hit, you have seek it out.

If more people listened to it,  more would like it. Not everyone, obviously, but more. His tunes are catchy. They have intelligent lyrics. His band is fantastic. There’s plenty to like. (And Ontarians, please note: You have an exceedingly rare opportunity this week and next week to see him play live, in Hamilton, St. Catharines, Oshawa, Ottawa, and Brockville. They’re small venues, not expensive, and if it’s anything like the two shows of his I’ve seen, you won’t regret it.)

Closing out with Bob’s life in song, in the amusing hidden track from his latest album, Young and Sober. “In the year of 75, that’s when I sang myself alive.”

One thought on “On being a fan of Bob Geldof’s music

  1. This comment from “Dan” was posted under the “About moi” page, but I think was intended for this location:

    October 15, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Nice post. I was at the Palaise Royal back in 2002 as well. I requested House on fire and he played it…lol. Just saw him Saturday in Oshawa another great show. Possibly the last time he’ll ever perform back here.

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