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Supertramp singer/gutiarist Roger Hodgson wrote this song when he was a teenager, but didn't record it until much later. It was about five years between when he wrote the song and when he brought it to the band. When we spoke with Hodgson in 2012
, he explained: "I think it's a great song. I didn't realize it was when I first wrote it. It actually took me six years before I even brought it to the band. But I wrote it I think around 1970. That time, the late '60s, early '70s, was a very idealistic time, one of hope, a lot of peace and love and the dream of the '60s was still very alive and maturing, if you like. The Beatles had put out 'All You Need Is Love
' a year prior to that. I believed in love - it was always for love - and just felt that was the most important thing in life.
That song has really taken on a life of its own, and I think it's even more relevant today than when I wrote it. Because we really are needing to value love in a much deeper way, and also we're needing to care. The song is basically saying: just show you care. You know, reach out and show you care. So in concert it's the perfect show closer, because what I try to do in my show over two hours is unify the audience and unify all of us. So that at the end, when everyone stands up for 'Give A Little Bit,' they're open and ready to open their hearts and sing at the top of their lungs and go away with a smile on their face. And that song really does, it has a very pure energy. The moment I start, people just start smiling. It's amazing."
Hodgson said this song was "written at a time when writing simple songs was very easy because I didn't over-think them."
The song is a call to share your love with your fellow man. Said Hodgson: "The song itself is such a pure, simple message that I think is really especially even more powerful today when the world has even more problems and it's even more difficult sometimes to be compassionate and caring because we've got to put up all these barriers to survive; that it's a song that really inspires people to give a little bit, not give a lot, just give a little bit and see how it feels and show that you care, and I know for me, every time I play it in concert, there's something about that song.
I look out and people just start smiling straight away and sometimes they hug each other and they start singing with me. It's a very unifying song with a beautiful, simple message that I'm very proud of and really enjoy playing today."
This was used in commercials for The Gap during Christmas season, 2001. The spots featured different singers interpreting the song with the same message: buy lots of stuff. Some of the artists who performed it in the ads were Robbie Robertson, Sheryl Crow, Liz Phair, Dwight Yoakam, and Shaggy.
The Goo Goo Dolls released this on their 2004 album Live From Buffalo. Their version had a lot of success on Top 40 and Light Rock stations - it made #37 on the Hot 100. (thanks, Ted - Greeley, CO)
This has been adopted as a theme song to help raise funds for many worthwhile causes. Hodgson gets many requests to use it and has been generous in granting the rights to charitable efforts. Said Roger, "I'm very, very happy to lend it to any worthwhile fundraising or disaster relief. For Hurricane Katrina, it was used a lot and for the tsunami also and for many others, so it's very wonderful to have a song that can be used in that way. Very gratifying."
Princess Diana loved this song, and Hodgson performed it in her honor at the 2007 Concert for Diana at Wembley Stadium. Said Hodgson: "I was kind of sad that I never got to actually play for the princess while she was alive but I was very, very happy that the princes invited me to play for her honor 10 years after her death to celebrate her life in Wembley Stadium and, actually, I was very nervous and I had some laryngitis going on, so it was okay and my voice cracked a few times. It was quite nerve-wracking but it was very wonderful when the audience all stood up, and the princes also, to sing 'Give a Little Bit' with me. That was a magical moment." (Thanks to Roger's management for their help and in supplying the quotes.)
A band so baffling, even their names were contrived. Check your score in the Ramones version of Fact or Fiction.
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