8 thoughts on “The Bizarre Cruelty of ‘We Are the World’ to John Denver

  1. KIM CARNES is an amazing singer-songwriter. 2 Grammy awards and 8 nominations, 25 hits as performer and several as songwriter (from Frank Sinatra to Reba McEntire).

    For the week ending 19 January 1985, she became the first artist to lodge three hits on the Hot 100 as a solo artist (“Invitation to Dance”), duet partner (“Make No Mistake, He’s Mine”), and member of a trio (“What About Me”), simultaneously. Less than two weeks later, Carnes would also join a historic moment in pop music as a featured soloist in USA for Africa’s “We Are the World” (1985).

  2. The number one song on the Billboard charts when “We Are the World” was recorded was “Like a Virgin.” It had been the number one the previous five weeks, as well.

    In other words, there was no “Billboard achievement” standard to determining who was invited to the recording of “We Are the World.”

  3. Lyrics to “We are the World” reveal an egotistical song telling us to support the celebrities’ fundraising. It’s not about the sufferers, “we’re saving our own lives”.
    Then listen to, “I Want to Live”, by Denver. He celebrates the children, painting beautiful word pictures about life on Earth. Denver’s intimate’s lyrics make We are the World” look pathetic and shallow.
    “WatW” was all hype and ego.

  4. I loved “We Are the World” when it came out, and I look forward to watching the new documentary on Netflix. I was able to find a copy of the article from Life magazine about the event.

    I guess politics are everywhere such that the cool kids didn’t want Denver involved in “We Are the World.” Sad that Paul Simon had to make a joke about Denver. I guess, despite the successes of some people, they can still revert to being in junior high.

    Ken Kragen said he had to turn down about 40 other artists; I have searched everywhere but cannot find the names of these artists. Have you been able to find them? Thanks.

  5. In response to ALee’s
    “Lyrics to “We are the World” reveal an egotistical song telling us to support the celebrities’ fundraising. It’s not about the sufferers, “we’re saving our own lives”.”

    I would say that my “reading” of the documentary and the song are different.
    (1) They did give consideration to the possibility that some wording would be considered self-indulgent and left it out.
    (2) And I interpret “we’re saving out own lives” not to be egotistical but as a clarion call to everybody that saving those lives in Ethiopea was tantamount to saving ourselves. It is OUR village.

    I was thoroughly moved by the Netflix documentary — the leaving egos at the door by everybody as per Quincy Jones’ sign, the mutual admiration by singers famous in their own rights, the willingness to be shepharded into doing this charity bit despite the claustophobia the artistes must’ve felt, and their great collective artistic achievement — not to mention the tens of millions of dollars the song managed to collect AND the copycat songs for charities it managed to seed.

  6. I couldn’t figure this out, either. They reject John Denver, but include Bob Dylan, who was so high he had to be force fed his one or two lines, then appeared to fall asleep during the recording? Please.

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