The plan was for Mick and David to lay down vocals and a few instrumentals for a charity track. Covering the motown song made famous by Martha and the Vandellas "Dancing in the Street". Originally they planned to do the song live at LIVE AID from two different locations, but satellite feed tests said the only way this could happen was if they lip-synched. Refusing to do this the consolation was to quickly record the song that Bob Geldof had requested and create a music video to be played on the telecast.
Live Aid was in part conceived by the former lead singer of The Boomtown Rats, most famous for the song "I Don't Like Mondays" and also for staring in Pink Floyd's The Wall. The concert was a 16 hour production from two locations designed to raise awareness and money for assistance in relieving Ethiopia's prevalent famine issue.
One may never know why this was the song Bob chose, but it was a raucous number perfect for the duo. Before them the song was recorded and released by The Mamas and the Papas, The Grateful Dead, and Van Halen. The song itself was actually co-written by Marvin Gaye who unless there's a demo never recorded the song himself.
Mick and David rewrote a few lyrics. David's bandmates played the main beats. The horn section was done in NYC. After four hours plus Mick's ego a version was recorded (which would later be over produced by a multitude of people). They dropped the version onto a tape and headed to the Drydocks to meet with long-time David Bowie video director David Mallet (who also directed I Don't Like Mondays, as well many of Queen, Joan Jett and Def Leppard's videos). Completely improvised with ideas from Bowie and Mallet they shot all night long until 5 in the morning with 2 hours of editing to get it approved, prepped and set to air on July 7th and get the charity agreement done a music video which became the ridicule of many for years came to exist.
It eventually even became a punchline of the adult animated sitcom Family Guy  which uses cutaways and awkward segue ways usually poking fun at pop-culture mostly in a cruel and demeaning manner that is not always funny and more critical of entertainment including itself.
Yet what Peter Griffin says is true. That happened, and we let it happen.
We also let Lionel Richie dance in a street. Not The Streets because he was actually on a sound stage but none the less . As an extra aside, The Cleveland Show used "All Night Long" for a bit as well. I think Seth MacFarlane secretly loves all the same music I do but isn't willing to admit so he uses it in a sarcastic manner to deflect his un-needed shame.
I have NO shame to admit I love the silliness of the video made by Bowie, Jagger and Mallet. Especially under the circumstances. They threw on clothes or just wore exactly the same clothes they had on after four hours of trying to record a cover for charity. Mick flew is specifically for it right from a plane to the studio. Bowie had already been in there for hours prior. Sleep deprived, jet lagged, exhausted, they had to finish something cause they agreed to it. They fell into that weird groove that all really good friends do.
Family Guy jokes it's the gayest music video ever made. Yet I want you to think what you'd make if you and your really good friend spent a bunch of hours arguing, singing, convalescing and trying to make something you didn't create your own and then had to make something ELSE without sleeping in between so you might have done some drugs or whatever to stay awake. I'm betting it'd be pretty fucking gay. I know from experience with my best friend and brother who unlike David and Mick have never been physically intimate and never will be it'd still be pretty "gay"... cause that's just what happens. You lose all sanity, you lose all insecurities, you just get crazy. I can just imagine Mallet from 5 AM-7AM that next day going "How the hell do I turn this into anything?!?" and realizing it was THAT or nothing and nothing was unacceptable.
Nothing isn't ALWAYS unacceptable, but something is usually better. At least something speaks to your mind at the moment, something creates a discussion, something allows more. Nothing is... well nothing. Yet, reflecting back to an earlier post, if we came from nothing, how was there ever something.
The answer? Who cares? We should go dancing in the streets.
(Numbered links are for reference for those unfamiliar with any of the songs/videos cited or to expand your experience)
written & researched fortherealljidol Friends and Rivals Mini-Season Topic 14- Dancing in the Street