Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Boomtown Rats”

A Meaningful Christmas

I will never forget Band Aid, an initiative of British and Irish (and later US) music artists who came together to form the ultimate supergroup in 1984. Best of all for me, it was founded on the energy of bad boy Bob Geldof, lead singer of the Boomtown Rats, to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia by releasing the record “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” for the Christmas market that year.

Geldof became infamous for swearing on stage whenever the rate of donations began to drop. Phil Collins performed first on stage at the UK concert and then boarded a Concord plane, flew to New York, and played there. Okay, it was cool at the time to an idealistic 20-year-old (and passionate Genesis fan).  

“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” surpassed the hopes of the producers to become the Christmas number one on that release. Two subsequent re-recordings of the song to raise further money for charity also topped the charts.

– the live version.

– the recording

Here are all the artists wishing you a Happy New Year – back at you people. It was an amazing moment when people of privilege and fame made a stand. 

The struggle still goes on, the hunger and poverty a shame on humanity. But to return to my Jewish roots: “It is not for us to finish the task, but neither are we free to desist from it.

Happy Holidays to all humanity.


Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of GalbriethThe First Decree, and Ashbar – Wycaan Master Book 3 – all released by Tourmaline Books. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter). Hang out with Alon on Google+

We’ll Never Have That Receipe…Ever – Donna Summer RIP

Earlier this month, Donna Summer passed away, may she rest in peace. I was never into the disco scene; rather I saw it as a (generally unsuccessful) opportunity to pick up a member of the opposite sex. Compared to today’s analytical on-line dating, what we did in the 70’s and 80’s seems practically cave man.

Disco music often seemed superficial as though it’s sole aim was to get you strutting your funky stuff out on the discothèque floor. Coming from a guy who was headbanging to Led Zeppelin and Rainbow, or trying to find his place in the punk music of the day (Boomtown Rats anyone?), I admit this is somewhat ironic at best.

But there was one Donna Summer song that resonated with me as I left England, the country where I was born and had grown up. It occasionally rains in England and this song offered a finality that has stuck with me in everything to do with my birthplace (family and soccer apart, of course).

I really don’t know much about Donna Summer and resisted lifting snippets of other people’s articles on her life and personality. Ms. Summer gave me a gift that traveled with me through three decades and three continents. MacArthur Park resides in my all-time Top Ten. For that reason alone, I want to take a moment and honor her life.

Donna Summer – R.I.P 1948-2012.


Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

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