“How was I to know which way the story’d go?”

Discussing this eyeopening “live” performance of “Do They Know It’s Christmas” with friends on Facebook, I reminded them that Kenny Rogers had cajoled and shamed an American Music Awards audience in 1995 into joining him for a tenth-anniversary rendition of “We Are the World.” It was obvious that no other performance in Rogers’ long career had moved him so much as his contribution to Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson’s ad for stars seducing the audience into donating money for Ethiopian children. No one was on cue. They looked appalled. Prince, famously absent from the original sessions, did Rogers a favor. He stood beside him sucking on a lollipop, thinking about cymbals in Guinea.

I can’t find the clip. Hang me. But I did find the only other performance I remember that night: Madonna, months before Evita opera lessons and you can tell, debuting “Take a Bow,” aided by exquisite Babyface harmonies. She looks terrified.

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