Happy Xmas (War is Over)

Season’s greetings, my dear friends. May the yuletide season bring you boundless joy and prosperity. As is customary every year, FR!DAY ! AM !N ROCK has taken upon itself to serenade you with some delightful melodies to accompany your festivities.

Our playlist includes the timeless classics such as “Last Christmas” by the illustrious WHAM!, the beloved childhood favourite “Father Christmas” by the legendary Kinks, and the forthcoming ballad “Happy Xmas” by none other than John Lennon and his muse Yoko Ono.

Allow me to regale you with the tale of a song, a song that bears the name “Happy Xmas” or in its full splendour, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)”. This opus was unleashed unto the world in the year 1971, courtesy of John and Yoko / The Plastic Ono Band. Now, what makes this song truly intriguing is its origin story. It was birthed in the midst of the Vietnam War, a time of great turmoil and strife. John, being the artist that he was, channelled his passion into his music and created a protest song that would stand the test of time.

During this period, John’s magnum opus, Imagine, was gaining widespread recognition. It was a time when the spoke of his songs having political overtones, but with a coating of honey to make it palatable to the masses. And being the celebrity that he was, John used his fame to draw media attention to his endeavours for human rights and anti-war movements. Take, for instance, the Bed-in for Peace, where he and Yoko took to their bed for a fortnight to raise awareness.

Happy Xmas (War is Over) John Lennon and Yoko Ono

“Happy Xmas (War is Over)” was birthed from the depths of boredom and evolved into a message of protest and hope. It all began with John, who was weary of the same old tunes playing every Christmas and yearned to create something new and fresh. However, as he delved deeper into the composition process in the year 1969, amid the anti-Vietnam War movement, his thoughts took a different direction.

As John himself later revealed in an interview, he realized that he wanted to write a protest song, but one that was coated with a layer of honey to make it more palatable to the masses. Thus, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” was born, a melody that would inspire generations and resonate with people around the world.

In the year before the song’s release, John and Yoko took it upon themselves to spread the message of peace and love, with the slogan “The War is Over If You Want It – Happy Christmas from John & Yoko”. They plastered this message on billboards and posters across twelve major cities worldwide. However, it must be said that the idea was not entirely original, as other artists and activists had already used similar phrases in their works. For instance, there was Phil Och’s “The War Is Over” and The Doors’ “The Unknown Soldier” that predated John’s use of the term.

The content is simple and easy to understand, starting with Yoko’s voice saying “Happy Christmas, Kyoko” (Yoko’s daughter), followed by John’s voice saying “Happy Christmas, Julian” (John’s son).

Happy Xmas(War is Over)
Single Cover Art

Happy Xmas (War is Over)

John & Yoko The Plastic Ono Band

  • Released – 1 December 1971 (US) / 24 November 1972 (UK)
  • Length – 3:35
  • Label – Apple
  • Songwriters – John Lennon/Yoko Ono
  • Producers – Phil Spector/John Lennon/Yoko Ono
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 had fun
The near and the dear ones
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 (War is over)
For weak and for strong (If you want it)
The rich and the poor ones (War is over)
The road is so long (Now)

And so happy Christmas (War is over)
For black and for white (If you want it)
For yellow and red ones (War is over)
Let's stop all the fight (Now)

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

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
Happy Christmas (Happy Christmas)
Happy Christmas (Happy Christmas)
Happy Christmas (Happy Christmas)

The story behind “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” is fascinating, as it involves the collaboration of talented artists and producers. The Harlem Community Choir, made up of thirty children aged 4 to 12, was supervised by Phil Spector, the mastermind behind the iconic Wall of Sound. 

However, upon first hearing the song, Phil noticed similarities with the Paris Sisters’ “I Love How You Love Me,” a tune he produced in the past. The chord layout and melody, though, were derived from an old traditional song, likely the version popularized by Peter, Paul, and Mary.


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