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Is That It? (1986)

by Bob Geldof

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246579,057 (3.73)1
Bob Geldof recounts his extraordinary childhood in Dublin and schooldays that were both horrifying and funny. He describes the origins of New Wave music and the beginnings, triumphs and eventual eclipse of the Boomtown Rats. He writes of his years with Paula Yates, the formation of Band Aid and its achievements.… (more)



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Is that it by Bob Geldof
My birthday gift 1985, the year they took my license to drive away, I was given a special birthday gift: was the watching nonstop, no chores no meals to make and i was able to watch the whole liveaid and even told others my brother is Bob Geldof.
Like that he's a knight now and nominated for the nobel peace problem but mostly because of the aide he's helped raised.
Story focuses on his childhood and although he had siblings he felt alone.
Very detailed descriptions, adult content but was happy got to hear about the process of setting up bandaid and how others helped.
Trip to Ethiopia was hard to listen to because of what was there.
Loved this book due to all the work involved in making th event a success.
Received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device). ( )
  jbarr5 | Oct 23, 2017 |
10+. Best of the Best.

Can't recommend this more. Not a "rock n roll" bio; but the autobiography of a many who had a band for awhile, but is much more an activist on so many levels, notably the "Band Aid" movement, but also for father's rights, and much more. Only teensy down is that it was written in 1987, so an update is long overdue---though that would also open up potential pain of his personal life, with loss of his wife, her subsequent death, and then the death of his daughter. Regardless, even if he didn't discuss those I would love to read an update. Thank you, Bob, for being the person you are. You are fucking brilliant, and I appreciate your words so much.

Here are some excerpts, in his words:

People still go on about me being dirty, unkempt and untidy. IT always staggers me that it bothers them so much and me not at all. I still never iron anything; I simply don't think about it and even if I did I wouldn't be bothered with what seems to me to be an unnecessary task.

I believe disarmament impractical, like peace. We have never had peace since mankind appeared on this planet... I believe we are impelled towards conflict, although peace is the ideal we should constantly strive for. It is the great failing and at the same time the greatest attribute of humanity that we constantly reach for things that exceed our grasp. Peace isn't possible, but we should never stop trying for it.

I believed at 14 exactly what I believe now about apartheid: that it is a system so evil it putrefies the morality of the world. I could not accept, then or now, that any many is less because of accent, colour, religion or class ... Those who perpetrate it, like in South Africa, deny their own intelligence and act purely on an instinctive and emotional level. We have a word for that behaviour: animal.

[Discussing a homeless woman he befriended who lived on the stoop of someone else's house. He would bring her soup and talk to her.] She wasn't ashamed to take the soup but in the depths of winter I was ashamed to leave her there in the freezing tiled porch with the lights on inside the house. ... But even if the Government took responsibility it wouldn't negate our own. Old people still die of cold every winter. Children still get abused. People still go hungry. It must be our responsibility. We can't simply blame governments. These are our neighbours. We must rediscover a sense of individual responsibility for each other.

The night before I had been reading Woody Guthrie's autobiography, "Bound for Glory"....A split had developed between the native kids and the children of the newcomers. Excluded from existing gangs, the new kids formed their own. It was called the Boomtown Rats. Even at that tender age [11] Woody could spot a moral discrepancy and left his old friends to join the new band.

The only act of revolution left in a collective world is thinking for yourself.

[Describing East and West Berlin, in the Cold War]. The U'bahn underground train runs in a circle through EAst and West Berlin. You are not allowed off in East Berlin if you come from the West or vice versa. The tube circles endlessly and it is warm. On cold nights people spend all night down there in comfort. It's nice to think of the fact that although above ground they're shooting people because they want to live somewhere else, below ground there's a party going on, circling endlessly with its oblivious guests. You know which one I think makes more sense.

As I sat there [being interviewed] a young girl called Brenda Spencer was leaning out of her bedroom window with a gun, shooting people down. There seemed to me something singularly American about what happened next. A journalist telephoned her. She answered the phone, which seems a bizarre thing to do anyway in the middle of murdering strangers. He asked her why she was doing it. She said "something to do. I don't like Mondays". I stared at the [teletype machine bringing this news]. She had probably replaced the phone by now and returned shooting. Schoolchildren were dying as I sat answering another inane question. Pop music is so terribly unimportant.

The title [of the album] The Fine Art of Surfacing was lifted form an article on psychology in New Scientist. IT seemed apt to someone who had for most of his life felt like he was slowly sinking. It also fitted the psychological mood of the album. Most of the songs were brutally honest about myself and my preoccupations and touched on the bleaker side of life, even though I was more contented now than I'd ever been. But still, I don't believe that contentment is part of the plot. I don't think I can ever be content, there will always be the push and pull of an eternal, internal conflict, the tiresome civil war that screams perpetually inside my head, the constant tedious questioning and analysis of motive.

Nationalism, I believe, is the single most dangerous of all political philosophies. Patriotism--a pride in your country--is understandable and healthy. I am proud of [Ireland] and its literary and cultural heritage, and of the poeple... but Nationalism, which seeks to turn those natural feelings into a system of control, and then transform them into a jingoistic political ideology, seems to me abhorrent, and little more than fascism. Nationalism is tribalism, and constantly prevents different parts of the world from attempting to understand one another. It's something we'd better come to terms with soon, in the age of the ubiquitous global culture perpetrated and spread by a global media network. This was the basic logic underlying Live Aid.

Suicide is the ultimate defeat. No matter how depressed you are, to succumb to that is to throw in the towel and I'm not very good at that. Too Irish, too stubborn. But the dense moods which "The Wall" brought down upon me carried with them an insight into depths which were normally buried, and I would prefer remained so.

One day I gave [then girlfriend Paula Yates] a lecture and made her get a job. 'Apart from the fact that it is ludicrous for a person of your talents to waste your time like this, I hate the idea of women being financially dependent on men. I'm not saying that because I'm too mean to give you any money, but financial disharmony is the major reason for arguments in most households, anyway. It just seems degrading for you to have to ask, and me to condescend to dole it out. Why not work as a journalist? If you write the way you talk you'll make a fortune.

There was something terrible about the idea that 2,000 years after Christ, in a world of modern technology, something like [Ethiopian famine] could be allowed to happen as if the ability of mankind to influence and control the environment had not altered one jot. A horror like this could not occur today without our consent. We had allowed this to happen and now we knew that it was happening, to allow it to continue would be tantamount to murder. I would send money. But that was not enough. To expiate yourself truly of any complicity in this evil meant you had to give something of yourself. I was stood against a wall. I had to withdraw my consent.

[After giving the graphic description of a child dying from starvation as he watched] I was watching a child die. There can be no doubt in my mind that the little boy is dead now. But he will not die in my imagination. There, nothing can free him from the agonizing process of death which is fixed in my mind.

It was the first time I'd experienced the 'God syndrome': people who came up afterwards moist eyed, touching you and looking at you as if they expected you to ascend on a cloud. I told them to fuck off. One unctuous cretin told me if Christ was on earth he would be with me. I replied 'If Christ were on this earth I'd ask him why he wasn't in Africa'.

Aid is given in direct proportion to how friendly a government is toward the donor. It is used as a threat, blackmail, and a carrot. This is wrong. If you can help, do so and give graciously without conditions. That is not naive, it is humane. Aid by and large benefits the donor country as much as the recipient, more so in fact as it stimulates, by trade, the donor's economy, but leaves the recipient aid-dependent. In the end all aid is valueless if it doesn't encourage by investment in genuine development of a country.

I am exhausted now, as I have been for the past 17 months [prior to and after Live Aid concert] but I am in no doubt that when famine occurs again, as it will--for we still will not alter the way we behave politically, not at least for years if ever--I will be asked questions by the media. But I am satisfied I have literally done as much as I am capable of doing, and I will always rail against those things I abhor. I will always try and avoid the cant and hypocrisy I loathe so much. I will continue being an 'awkward bugger'. But this can't be it, there's go to be other things I'm meant to do. What they are I don't know yet. I've got, on average, the same amount of time to live again and I'm looking forward to it. I'm sure it'll be interesting. But it's been pretty weird so far. ( )
  PokPok | Nov 26, 2014 |
I was a late teenager reading this and it was one of the best. It is very sad, very funny. Wonderful read ( )
  lisathomson | Jan 11, 2013 |
I read this years ago and still remember bits of it , so it must be good. ( )
  wendyrey | Sep 28, 2008 |
This is a bestselling autobiography of a national hero. Bob Geldof formed Band Aid, orchestrated Live Aid, and is the driving force behind Live 8. He has rallied the forces of rock performers all over the world and inspired millions to raise millions for the starving in Africa. He has met with world leaders and demanded that they change their aid policies. He has travelled in Africa and seen famine first-hand, and he has overseen the disbursement of the millions that Band Aid has raised. In this vividly honest autobiography, written with wit, candour and characteristic energy, Geldof recounts his extraordinary childhood in Dublin and schooldays that were both horrifying and funny. He describes the origins of New Wave music and the beginnings, triumphs, and eventual eclipse of the Boomtown Rats. He writes of his years with Paula Yates, the formation of Band Aid and its achievements and he writes of his hopes for the future. Widely admired, Bob Geldof is nonetheless ferociously independent and remains the most charismatic and controversial public figure in Britain today. ( )
3 vote deeplant | Jul 9, 2006 |
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Bob Geldof recounts his extraordinary childhood in Dublin and schooldays that were both horrifying and funny. He describes the origins of New Wave music and the beginnings, triumphs and eventual eclipse of the Boomtown Rats. He writes of his years with Paula Yates, the formation of Band Aid and its achievements.

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