Yesterday, for no discernible reason, I got a song stuck in my head, and there was no getting over it. It is John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Christmas song, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” performed with the Plastic Ono Band and the Harlem Community Choir. The root of the song began in 1969 when John Lennon and Yoko Ono purchased media, including billboards and newspaper advertisements to write “War is Over! (If you want it.) Happy Christmas from John and Yoko.”
In 1971, the couple recorded their single in October and released it in December. According to some historians, it did not appear on the billboard charts because it wasn’t released with enough lead time before Christmas to build a following. I, for one, believe that it’s because it isn’t a good song.
When Lennon was shot on December 8, 1980, his death propelled the re-released song to #2 on the charts. Coincidentally, on that same night, a friend had stopped by my house to give me a belated birthday present, Lennon’s album, Double Fantasy. Strangely, we were preparing to listen to the album when we heard on the radio about the murder outside of Lennon’s home in New York City.
Even with this unusual connection, I have not warmed to the song. I have to admit, though, that I am probably one of the few of my generation who does not like the Beatles records in general.
The anti-war message is terrific, but the lyrics are just average: “This is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over. A new one just begun. . .” Nothing cheery there.
Plenty of people remark that Yoko Ono does not sing on key. I’m over that. What irks me is the pacing of song, almost as if it was performed at one speed and then mechanically adjusted and slowed down to annoy. Try singing the chorus to yourself . . .See? Now it’s stuck in your head, too.
The original record was released on clear green vinyl. As much as I don’t like the song, I’d buy it for the retro vinyl record.
I can see Jeremy shaking his head. I’m sure he will disagree.
If the comments on websites hosting the mp3 of the song or the lyrics are any judge, I’m in the minority on this one. Melissa Etheridge, Neil Diamond, The Moody Blues and plenty of others have made their versions. I’m going to ask Jeremy to make a special cd for me sampling all the versions (I bet he owns several) to see if it’s the song or the artist I don’t like.
What do you think?