John & Yoko: “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”
Today’s song fulfills two things at once here: it recognizes the 31st anniversary of John Lennon’s death, and it kicks off my Christmas song postings (which won’t be every day . . . just scattered throughout the next couple of weeks, 2 or 3 times a week).
There’s really not too much to say about this, as we’ve all been through whatever emotions Lennon’s death conjure up for each of us. For me, at the age of 14, it was the saddest day of my life up to that point, as Lennon was most certainly one of my heroes — I’d been a Beatles fan for as long as I could remember. Somewhat unfortunately, Howard Cosell will always be tied into my memories of it, as that was who I heard it from, as he and Frank Gifford announced a New England Patriots game on Monday Night Football. But Cosell handled it as gracefully as anyone might have, given the significance of the event, so as a result I think of him more favorably now than I had before that point.
So December 8 is always a date that arrives carting some baggage . . . but regarding “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” released as a single in December 1972, it’s one of the few original modern Xmas classics, becoming more embedded in the fabric of Christmas with each passing year. Lennon’s death only helped to lend it even more poignancy, but it was already a pretty powerful song. It never works terribly well when covered by other people, however; his outspokenness on world peace lent it a weight that is missing when someone like, say, Jimmy Buffet (seriously, he has a version) covers it.
I promise to lighten the holiday mood in upcoming Christmas song posts, but there’s no way to avoid the downer aspect of this one today. Happy Xmas, John…