We are the World – A Song for a Good Cause Turns 30

Nope, not an album this time, but a very famous single.  Believe it or not We Are the World turned 30 on January 28! You would be hard pressed to find anyone over the age 35 who does not remember hearing this song as it was in constant heavy rotation on the radio and MTV. Officially, the artist of this song is USA for Africa, but we all remember the dozens of pop stars who lent their vocal talents and made this song famous.

The song was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie (that alone makes it hit worthy), but what really sold this song were the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Cyndi Lauper, Stevie Wonder, and Bob Dylan who are all featured vocalist. I remember watching the video with all of my friends – all of us wanting to be the first to shout the name of the star who was singing. The highest honor was bestowed upon the one who could name the most singers. Eventually we got them all identified, but I had all but three recognized right away.

As I watched the video many times over the past few days I realized it is still fun trying to remember all of the great voices. My personal favorites are Steve Perry, Daryl Hall, and Huey Lewis.

We are the World follows on the heels of Do They Know It’s Christmas by Band Aid.  Both of these songs were recorded as part of a charity to raise money for starving people in Africa. All of this, of course, started by Bob Geldof. We are the World sold over 20 million copies and raised 75 million dollars.

In an article entitled “‘We Are the World’ at 30: 12 Tales You Might Not Know”, Brian Mansfield gives a quick history of the single as well as some little known tidbits. A few of the more interesting one are:

  • Most of the singers had never heard the song before walking into the studio.
  •  As one of the song’s writers, Richie got dibs on his solo line.
  •  Bob Dylan was nervous about singing his solo.

Check out the entire article here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2015/01/27/we-are-the-world-30th-anniversary/22395455/

This is probably not the best song of the ‘80s, but it does deserve a place in pop music history. A diverse groups of musicians and singers came together and selflessly donated their time to a worthy cause.  It is clearly the most successful attempt that the pop culture stars of the ‘80s had at raising awareness, as well as money, for an important cause. The organization USA for Africa is still in existence and still works hard to raise funds to help those in need.

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