John Lennon – Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

Merry Christmas everyone… another year older…and a new one just begun.  

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.

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

  1. A staple song on our Christmas playlist. Max, I don’t know what it is, but Lennon’s voice and mark on music still make his pre-death voice sound alive and well today. And, his anti-war message, especially in this song, sadly rings true every year. I thought of the Ukraine when I first heard it this year. Best to you, buddy!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. John wanted action! lol… I don’t know if it was just a question to live in peace and be against the war or what…it was years before I realized the “War is Over”

      Like

      1. Yea but it twas the season of idealism. I can’t say though it didn’t have an impact at all though…if it didn’t have one John wouldn’t have been on the FBI’s target list…. so he paid for it for just spouting it off.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. In 1971, I still had long hair and was playing rock music in a band. My future wife and I were driving around Dallas in my VW mini bus going to concerts and to the coast to surf. We had two of the signs in Dallas, one on central expressway and the other near downtown, and everyone made a big deal about them. Some of the churches wanted them removed because they assumed Lennon was Satan, or at least a demon. I didn’t care for the song when it first came out because I didn’t like Ono. Over the years I have come to appreciate the tune and quite like it. Thanks for the good write up, as usual.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I grew up in the wrong generation Phil.

      Yea…Yoko just doesn’t seem like a likeable person at all. I wouldn’t think those signs would go over in Texas as well. Thanks Phil.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yoko was responsible for breaking up the Beatles, at least that’s what an army of us believed at that time. Now, it seems it was John and Yoko working in tandum to leave the band. The Beatles were ready to dissolve. The boys had been through the old ringer and were tired of it all. It was likely everyone in the band contributed something that sparked the breakup. I still don’t care for Yoko, but it’s good that her son is now friends and musical cohorts with Julian Lennon. What’s next? We need more billboards and less twitters.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The ‘Shaved Fish’ album was a pretty good assemblage. ‘Cold Turkey’ and ‘Mother’ were pretty raw for the times, but I liked ’em for that reason. Those two were NOT radio friendly.
    HCWIO is a song about hope. Idealistic hope, as you said. it was a time of idealism in a less than ideal world. And sadly, this less than ideal world hasn’t evolved much since then. Anyways, I can still offer up a ‘Happy Christmas all’ even if more in hope than expectation. (What a gloomy Gus!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea the Shaved Fish album was my first Lennon album. I think it could be a little worse than ideal world now. There was more hope earlier I believe… I’ll match you in gloom!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I posted Dylan’s “Must Be Santa” on another site for a friend blogger…I’m going to post it again before Christmas on mine. Such an odd song for him to do.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: