LONDON - Bob Geldof hit back Tuesday at critics of his Band Aid 30 charity single after the British nurse who survived Ebola said the song's lyrics were embarrassing and ignorant.
William Pooley, who made a full recovery after contracting the virus in Sierra Leone, branded the hit Ebola fundraising track as "cringeworthy".
The track was produced to raise funds to fight Ebola in West Africa and marks the 30th anniversary of the original "Do They Know It's Christmas?" written by Bob Geldof to raise money for Ethiopia.
The new version became the fastest selling single of 2014 in Britain, with more than 312,000 downloads sold in its first week last month, the Official Charts Company said.
Pooley, 29, has returned to the west African country to resume his work treating sufferers in an isolation unit and said the single is "definitely being talked about here among my colleagues".
"But stuff about 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' It's just like, actually people live normal lives here and do normal things," Pooley told Radio Times magazine.
"It's Africa, not another planet. That sort of cultural ignorance is a bit cringeworthy. There's a lyric about 'death in every tear'. It's just a bit much." Reacting to the comments, Geldof told Britain's Telegraph newspaper: "Please. It's a pop song. Relax." He said critics were "more than welcome to be offended", adding: "I couldn't give a toss. Seriously, I'm the wrong guy.
"The reality behind the pop song - Christmassy, corny, whatever you think about it - the reality behind it is stark.
"If it's a pop song that can help ease the pain, the agony, if they can die with a little more dignity then, yeah, I'm there. It's pretty simple."
Under fire on social media
The Band Aid lyrics have faced criticism on social media and from pop star Emeli Sande, who contributed to the single along with stars like One Direction, Bono, Chris Martin and Ed Sheeran.
Sande said she thought the lyrics needed to be rewritten, and told British media she had edited her lines, but that the edits were cut.
CDs of the single were launched this week in a new drive to raise funds to combat the haemorrhagic fever outbreak, which has killed over 6,300 people mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Pooley was evacuated from Sierra Leone, the worst hit country, in August after he contracted Ebola working as a volunteer.
He made a full recovery after treatment in a London isolation unit with experimental drug ZMapp, and returned to Sierra Leone as a volunteer in October, saying it was "something I have to do".
Pooley urged people to donate to charities working directly to treat the disease, such as King's Sierra Leone Partnership which he works with, as money from governments was arriving slowly.
"There are still people outside the front of the hospital dying of Ebola because there aren't enough beds for them. I had hoped that by now that would have been over," Pooley said.
The nurse said he plans to celebrate Christmas with "a few beers" after his shift ends, and dismissed the idea he was a hero.
"I'm working with masses of local staff who are risking death... But they're still coming to work," he said. "They are the heroes."