I’m really glad I watched the NBC Coming Together telethon for Sandy victims Friday night.
It was an “unplugged” and spartan presentation of stars. At times it had the feel of a community TV show – shocking to see on national network TV – like when Jimmy Fallon’s microphone wasn’t turned up high enough. The gaffs lent authenticity to an affair that could have gotten glitzy if it hadn’t been pulled together on short notice (they had maybe 48 hours to get this assembled). Even the studio audience was tiny.
In that unplugged scene I could marvel at the raw talent of these musicians who had no autotune and weren’t swaddled by a studio or a big production crew. Never did it get so full of itself that it squashed the message: care about the victims of Sandy ; give to the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
The presentation did not drift into political territory at all, despite the fears of FOX News [Come on]. Matt Lauer technically was the host but we saw so many other stars take the mic – Whoopi Goldberg, Kevin Bacon, Tina Fey – that I forgot that fact.
The telethon brought us brief interviews with victims of the tragedy as well as song. The moment that really slayed my heart was when a woman walked onto planks into a marsh where her house had floated. She bent down to retrieve photos and found a black and white portrait of her mother in her bridal gown, speckled with mud. Even during the songs, the hurricane loomed larger than the superstars with images of the devastation broadcast on large screens in back of the stage.
After one particularly tear-jerking report from the coast, the camera cut back to the studio and Brian Williams said something along the lines of, “Well if that doesn’t convince you to give to this cause, I don’t know what will.”
It was a little too matter of fact and I laughed with surprise. My better half here said, “Yeah. If that doesn’t shake you by the lapels, what will”. And then we gave money to the Red Cross.
If its within your power, I hope you will do the same.
How to give $10.00: text REDCROSS to 90999
Go to iTunes.com/redcross
Donate at RedCross.org
Watch the full 1 hour here.
Note: the very cheap laptop I am currently using has a hard time with the NBC site video player. So I’ll keep looking for YouTube uploads of the show through the day and here as they are discovered. See bottom of post for some I’ve already collected.
Christina Aguillera sang “Simply Beautiful”
Bon Jovi sang “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” and a haunting rendition of “Living on a Prayer”
Bill Joel sang “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Down on Broadway),”
Steve Tyler sang the vocally challenging song “Dream On” without the cover of crashing drums and wailing guitars usually provided and it was, in my opinion, absolutely amazing.
Sting sang “Message in a Bottle” with only his guitar as backup.
Mary J. Blige sang a gentle version of “The Living Proof.”
The evening’s show concluded with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performing “Land of Hope and Dreams” which then concluded with a few bars of “People get Ready”.
What I could locate on YouTube this morning:
Added this afternoon:
Footnote on NYC marathon:
Glad the NYC marathon got called off Friday. I know Bloomberg said that the roadway conditions wouldn’t be as clogged because it would be a weekend, however given that a lot of people in lower Manhattan and Staten Island are still experiencing hardships such as no power, shortage of food, clothing, very little fuel and water etc., diverting city and police resources to folks running does not seem appropriate. In fact the notion was insulting.
Here’s a report on conditions on the actual NYC marathon course as documented by Sara Germano Nov. 2nd. Includes pictures of people waiting long lines at a convenience store and people arguing over right of way in a street.