I can think of no better way to explain why I think so highly of Rachel Esser than to share the text she sent me, reporting on her progress in writing this guest post: “I wrote a whole thing for a Bearobics song, but then I remembered ‘Do They Know It’s Hallowe’en.'” Rachel takes special pleasure in anything that can honestly be described as “bonkers,” and especially enjoys movies in which people slice off someone’s face in order to use the resulting nasty sheet of skin as a mask, a quality that would frankly be disturbing in anyone but her. Coming from Rachel, this is somehow adorable. It is her superpower. One of many, actually, as I can also attest that she’s a phenomenal professional collaborator, one of the best, most insightful I’ve ever worked with. Even so, nothing is more memorable than the way she helplessly says, “He’s amazing” in a happy, tiny voice at the moment the monster shows up in any given horror movie.
Every once in a while, a group of celebrities comes together for disaster relief or to fight hunger and disease. But once upon a time, such a group was created to fight the most insipid of troubles…Halloween. And thus, The North American Hallowe’en Prevention Initiative was born. The collaboration happened in 2005 and featured the likes of Beck, Peaches, Arcade Fire, Karen O, Feist, David Cross, and even Elvira.
Okay, so they weren’t really trying to squelch the fun of tradition of trick-or-treaters everywhere. The group recorded and released “Do They Know It’s Hallowe’en?” on Vice Records to raise money for UNICEF. The product was the brainchild of Adam Gollner (We Are Molecules) and Nick Diamonds (Islands, The Unicorns). The song was a response to “other benefit songs’ misguided, somewhat patronizing attitude, and Western-centric worldview.” And I truly couldn’t agree more. (You should hear me when “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” comes on the radio.) That, and it’s just good. It entered my large and ever-growing rotation of Halloween music seven years ago and it hasn’t left since. It’s one of the highlights of my favorite time of year.
Disclaimer: This song is posted and shared with the understanding that it is out of print and therefore unavailable for purchase in a way that will provide due compensation to both the artist and the proprietor of your favorite local, independently-owned record store. I will gladly remove it from the interweb if requested to do so by someone with due authority to make sure a request.