Bono ‘Didn’t Want to Sing’ This Lyric from ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’

Bono is most known for his work with U2, however, he also performed a verse on Band Aid’s Christmas hit “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” He did not want to perform one of the lyrics of the song at all. Interestingly, even the writer of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” didn’t like the song at all.

Bono in glasses
Bono | PAOLO COCCO/AFP via Getty Images

Why Bono sang a line that bothered him

Firstly, a little background. Charity singles were huge in the 1980s and perhaps the enduringly popular one was Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” Band Aid was a supergroup composed of musicians such as Bono, Boy George, and Bananarama. “Do They Knows It’s Christmas?” was designed to raise money for Ethiopians at a time when the country was suffering through a famine. Although the song had a noble purpose, it’s controversial for its portrayal of Africa.

The song portrays Africa as a foreboding place where the only water is tears. During Bono’s verse, he sings “Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.” The implication of the line is that someone has to suffer, and people should be happy it’s not them.

“Do They Know It’s Christmas?

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According to Rolling Stone, Bono expressed discomfort with the line in the book U2 by U2. “I told [songwriter Bob Geldof] I didn’t want to sing the line,” Bono recalled. “He said, ‘This is not about what you want, OK? This is about what these people need.’ I was too young to say, ‘This is about what you want.’ But it was his show and I was happy to be in it.”

Why Bob Geldof doesn’t like ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Geldof isn’t a fan of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” “I am responsible for two of the worst songs in history,” he said. “[One is] ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas? The other one is ‘We Are The World. Any day soon, I will go to the supermarket, head to the meat counter and it will be playing. Every f*cking Christmas.” It’s interesting Geldof was behind “Do They Know It’s Christmas? and “We Are the World” as they were both star-studded charity singles designed to raise funds for famine relief.

“We Are the World”

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Geldof doesn’t like hearing carolers sing “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” “They think ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ is as old as ‘Silent Night,'” Geldof said. “Sometimes I think that’s wild because I wrote it. Or else I am thinking how much I want them to stop because they are doing it really badly.”

How the world reacted to ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’

Bono had some compunctions about singing “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and Geldof loathes the song. What did the public think of it? UDiscoverMusic reports the song reached No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s become one of very few post-1960s Christmas songs to remain ubiquitous. Although the track may have problems, it remains popular.