John Lennon – Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

Merry Christmas everyone… another year older…and a new one just begun.  Dave just covered this one a few days ago.

This is my favorite Christmas song hands down. This song gets me in the Christmas mood like no other. The song is highly idealistic but that is alright. It was the early seventies and the time for idealism.

In 1969 John and Yoko had rented billboard spaces 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”. Two years later this slogan became the basis for this song when Lennon decided to make a Christmas record with an anti-war message…plus John said he was sick of White Christmas.

War is Over - John & Yoko Billboard - Time Square - NYC 1969. | Yoko, War, John  lennon

John’s voice goes so well with this song. The song peaked at #2 in the UK charts in 1971….the song did peak at #42 in the Billboard 100 in 2019.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote this in their New York City hotel room and recorded it during the evening of October 28 and into the morning of the 29th, 1971 at the Record Plant in New York. It was released in the US for Christmas but didn’t chart. The next year, it was released in the UK, where it did much better, charting at #2. Eventually, the song became a Christmas classic in America, but it took a while.

Lennon originally wrote this as a protest song about the Vietnam War, and the idea “that we’re just as responsible as the man who pushes the button. As long as people imagine that somebody’s doing it to them and that they have no control, then they have no control.”

The children’s voices are the Harlem Community Choir, who were brought in to sing on this track. They are credited on the single along with Yoko and The Plastic Ono Band.

I think of High School when I hear this song. Our school had a Christmas poster contest and a buddy and I made a poster as a joke and wrote “So this is Christmas and what have you done another year over, and a new one just begun” and won first prize…with an assist from John.

This didn’t appear on an album until 1975, when it was included on Lennon’s Shaved Fish singles compilation. This is one of the first Lennon albums I bought.

Happy Xmas (War is Over)

(Happy Christmas Kyoko)
(Happy Christmas Julian)

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very Merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

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

And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
A new one just begun
And so happy Christmas
We hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very Merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
War is over, if you want it
War is over now

Happy Christmas

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

53 thoughts on “John Lennon – Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”

  1. I remember the song and the billboards. I believe there were 2 in Dallas stating War Is Over, but it wasn’t over. Vietnam was going full steam. A nice song with the kiddo’s singing. I have not heard this song in years and was wondering why no radio stations play it?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Here they play it quite a bit but not as much as the Bing Crosby and older ones…which I love also… but it seems to have been a shift back to that era at Christmas.

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    1. Thank you! We did it and it looked nice…then by mistake the art teacher spilled a bottle of ink on it…she was so embarrassed… she fixed it though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. … University, that one holds up pretty well. Stevie Nicks’ straight reading of Silent Night is very good too. There are lots of terrible songs that would never get anywhere near the artist’s greatest hits, but get foisted on us every year – even artists I like like Tom Petty, Springsteen, Queen etc.

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      2. It’s grown on me through the years but that is about it…I did write it up and am debating when or waiting til next year.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It’s that experimental keyboard he was playing with…oh The Monkees did a cover of it and stripped it down and you are right….it sounds good.

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  2. Thanks for the mention and link! It is a good one, one of my favorites… I really like the BandAid one too, which is similarly political but sounds very happy and Christmassy. I hear it here on radio sometimes but like you say, I agree, in the past 5 years give or take the shift seems to be a lot more of the “vintage” (let’s not say “moldy”) ones from the 40s or thereabouts and a lot less of the ones from the rock era. I personally could do with not hearing about that snowman again no matter who’s telling it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You will have another link tomorrow…you got an earlier start…I had these but I was waiting…now every day will be either Christmas or Twilight Zone…two or three a day…some new some updated.

      Yea it’s a nice mixup… I do like a lot of the older ones.
      The rock one I never hear..and I’ll be posting is Billy Squires Christams song.

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      1. LOL…by the way Matt… I’ll be by your blog in a few…read the one on the scooter yesterday and loved it.

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      1. I know. I was going to a concert tomorrow night to see a great tribute band. I’m good friends with the lead vocalist. I called him earlier this evening to let him know I’m not going.

        The parents of my son’s best friends are both in the hospital with Covid, and the mother isn’t doing well. My wife’s nephew who went to a concert a week ago got Covid, and so did his girlfriend. Both were fully vaccinated. He was feeling pretty bad earlier during the week and needed to go to the hospital. Luckily, they were able to stabilize him quickly. He was discharged and is recovering at home.

        While of course there are countless other cases like the above, when it hits close to you, it has a bigger impact. My wife and son both aren’t eligible for their booster yet.

        I just don’t want to risk anything. Life without live music completely sucks. But life with Covid sucks even more!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Dang I’m sorry man…It’s tough not getting out and missing music sucks. Well I was talking about not having Bailey here but yea…I’m with you on that also. We usually go see the Opryland Hotel lights at Christmas but this year…we are not going because of what is going on.

        I hope your son’t friends parents recover. Bailey’s college friend’s mother passed away from Covid not long ago.

        Just when I thought this would slow down….it’s starting back up again.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve not written the post yet, so need to check but… It was at #4 the week that awful choir went to #1. I think that the following week the whole chart was just re-published, as was the custom over the holidays, but given that it was Xmas and Lennon had just died… There’s a chance it should have been #1

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think I read it somewhere while researching this…I’ll be interested to see if I’m right…I believe it was the children’s choir you posted.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Still a classic. I bought it xmas 1972 i loved the label which had johns face morphing into yokos. Wikipedia and the official charts company tend to lump all chart runs together on re entries, but it peaked st 4 in 1972, popped back 1974 xmas in the bottom end of the chart and peaked at 2 in 1980, but its been around most christmasses in one form or other for 15 years in an apparently alternative version. Sound the same to me though, still brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

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