It's easy to be cynical about Live 8, I'm not sure why there wasn't at least a minimal ticket price for this weekend's many mega-concerts. The proceeds could have built a Live 8 hospital somewhere in Africa, purified a lot of water or paid for plenty that needs to be done. But it seems Bob Geldof and pals wanted to move beyond the handouts that have been criticized worldwide.
Though I'm a fan of mega-events, I deferred to family responsibilities and didn't make the trip to Barrie. Instead, I drove further north to be with relatives on Georgian Bay.
I couldn't even get the TV tuned to Live 8 as early as I'd hoped. I had to battle relatives for the remote as competing interests in Wimbledon and the Tour de France kept Barrie off the screen.
Finally, I phoned a pal who was playing at the show to find out when his band was going on. I could hear the excitement in his voice as he got ready backstage and I snapped to attention when he asked me if I'd been watching. "Something significant is going on here," he insisted.
Getting control of the tube at last, I expected to see a greying gathering that might have come out for the Eagles or the Grateful Dead. Instead, it was a rocking crowd up for a great time, not afraid of sunburn, alcohol poisoning or looking stupid.
Suffering through Simple Plan's self-righteous importuning to vaguely "help Africa" sent me briefly back to the cynical side.
But as the TV played in the background while we roamed in and out of the water on a beautiful day, I started to fall under the event's spell.
There were some great musical moments, but what got me were the conversations the concerts sparked. My five-year-old saw a few of his family friends on the screen and wanted to know what the show was about. I had a talk with him about Africa that maybe I should have had before but took Live 8 to finally get around to.
As the show and day wound toward its climax, more of the extended family gravitated to the screen. More discussions were sparked, and teenaged nephews weighed in with their analysis, very astute, as chilled-glass-clutching grandparents were drawn to the talk like porch bugs to a cottage light.
Live 8 made a difference. The world gets changed for the better one gesture and one action at a time.
When Neil Young and some of Canada's greatest performers brought the Barrie show to a magnificent if clumsy climax, a brother-in-law rigged his laptop up to the old-school phone line to create an Internet connection. As his computer balanced on a footstool, my family lined up one after another, dropping to their knees to join the 25 million plus adding their names to make poverty history in Africa.
I knew then that Geldof and company are onto something as the family discussed how we can all do more for Africa and stand with the world to make it a better place instead of remarking on how good dinner tasted.
When Steven Page had the balls to drag the star-studded crew into the Canadian national anthem, it was inspired. It wasn't a jingoistic moment when the crowd joined in, though I was cringing that it would be when the first notes followed what had seemed a perfect ending. Instead, the anthem rang out like a challenge to try to be part of making something better.
And that's what a bunch a rich rockers all over the world managed to do - make us think about living a little closer to the ideals we profess or the ones we need to reconnect with.
Maybe now people won't be so quick to squawk about paying taxes and will instead think a little more about how that money is spent. And maybe my five-year-old will one day tell his own children about watching his grandmother kneel on the thick carpet to type her name into a laptop and be counted among the millions worldwide who gave a shit, back when Africa was a poor continent.