Merry Christmas to our readers who celebrate the holiday. With some recent events, an appropriate song for this year is John Lennon’s beautiful “Happy Xmas (War is Over).” The song was released in 1971 while the Viet Nam conflict was still going strong, so the original single was a song of protest and hope instead of a statement of fact.
Of course, today, the song is still more of a wish than anything else even as violence around the world continues. But in our dreams for the future we can hope for peace.
Currently, there is not a live video of Lennon singing the song available. So, here is a video of Melissa Etheridge’s version of the song. While nobody can match Lennon, she does an excellent job.
Lennon’s original, which was recorded with the help of producer Phil Spector and the Harlem Community Choir, may be heard on YouTube without any performance footage. Youtube also has what sounds like a Lennon demo version of the song.
Happy Xmas Trivia
Although many think the opening greetings in the original are John and Yoko telling each other “happy Christmas,” they are not. The couple is actually giving the greeting to their children, Kyoko and Julian.
And what about the music? In another piece of trivia, Wikipedia notes that the chord changes to the song come from “Stewball,” a sweet song about a drunk racehorse. If you listen to Peter, Paul, & Mary’s version of the traditional song, you can almost sing “Happy Xmas” along with them.
I bet on the grey mare, I bet on the bay
If I’d have bet on ol’ Stewball, I’d be a free man today.
Oh the hoot owl, she hollers, and the turtle dove moans.
I’m a poor boy in trouble, I’m a long way from home.
Here’s to a future Christmas where no soldiers are a long way from home and no civilians know of war. Happy Xmas.
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