“Now I understand what you have to do: Put your political message across with a little honey.”
With those words, John Lennon created a holiday song with a powerful message of peace. Time to celebrate his iconic Christmas single!
“Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” was released in 1971 as a single by John and Yoko, along with their Plastic Ono Band – and great harmonies by the Harlem Community Choir. The lyrics are set to the traditional English ballad “Skewball”.
“Imagine” A Powerful Anti-War Message!
Here’s how it all came together. After the success of his song “Imagine”, Jennon said:
“Now I understand what you have to do: Put your political message across with a little honey”.
At the time, John and Yoko were heavily involved in the anti-war movement in the US. He decided a holiday message was necessary to keep the momentum going.
First, let’s take a listen to the song:
“And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong
And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let’s stop all the fight
A very Merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear…”
Here is a YouTube video of the song:
Thanks to “TheFabFour14” on YouTube for sharing this, you can see the official Facebook page for news, updates, and exclusives on all things Beatles…
The backing chorus is sung by The Harlem Community Choir – a group of thirty children between four and twelve years of age – they ere called to the studio on October 31 to record backing vocals.
The song was released on December 1, 1971.
As wikipedia points out:
“Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” was the culmination of more than two years of peace activism undertaken by John Lennon and Yoko Ono that began with the bed-ins they convened in March and May 1969, the first of which took place during their honeymoon.”
John and Yoko Against The Vietnam War!
John and Yoko had begun an international multimedia campaign in 1969 that primarily consisted of renting billboard space in 12 major cities around the world for the display of black-and-white posters that declared:
“WAR IS OVER! If You Want It – Happy Christmas from John & Yoko”
The couple was famous for their “bed-in for peace” in Toronto, where they courted press for a month to sell their “anti-war” message to the public.
While there, they recorded “Give Peace A Chance” – you can see Comedian Tommy Smothers on guitar – well, Tommy told me a great story about recording with John Lennon – see the whole story here:
Lennon’s holiday song is one of my favorites, as is this one as well:
The Eagles recorded one of the most popular of all time, see the whole story about their holiday classic here:
Bravo to John and Yoko for their holiday classic!
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This was sung by a girl on ‘X Factor’ last weekend. I have to confess I think it is a dirge!
I don’t like Christmas songs that much, but give me Mariah Carey over this one any day.
It’s supposed to be a happy time!
Best wishes, Pete.
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Pete, the story is about the times in which it was recorded – in the US as a strong anti-war message during the Vietnam conflict…that said, I am also trying to plant many many holiday songs in your brain – the next post about this subject will be much more classic and upbeat!!!!
I know why Lennon wrote the song, John, and well remember the message, and the positive reception it received back then. Even at the time though, I just found it too depressing.
That’s enough Christmas songs for now thanks! 🙂
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