Friday, December 17, 1971

John Lennon “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” charted

Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

John Lennon & Yoko Ono

Writer(s): John Lennon, Yoko Ono (see lyrics here)

Released: December 1, 1971

First Charted: December 17, 1971

Peak: 38 BB, 36 CB, 22 GR, 28 HR, 32 AC, 6 CL, 2 UK, 24 CN, 13 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 1.2 UK, 2.22 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 63.55 video, 534.78 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

While John Lennon was still with the Beatles, he recorded three experimental studio albums with his wife, Yoko Ono. After he left the Beatles, he recorded the two most acclaimed albums of his solo career with Plastic Ono Band in 1970 and Imagine in 1971. That period included the title cut from the latter album (a #3 BB, 1 UK, 1971) plus a series of non-album singles, including “Instant Karma!” (#3 BB, 5 UK, 1970), “Power to the People (#11 BB, 6 UK, 1970), and “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” (#38 BB, 2 UK, 1971).

The song was recorded in October 1971, first with John & Yoko and the session musicians who had performed with the Plastic Ono Band. Then they added the Harlem Community Choir, which consisted of thirty children, mostly between the ages of four and twelve. WK It was produced by the legendary Phil Spector, who also oversaw the previously mentioned Lennon albums as well as the Beatles’ final album, Let It Be.

Dave Thompson called the song “the Lennons’ sweetest melody and most hopeful sentiment, dropped with scathing irony into the last years of Vietnam, and still powerful whenever a new war looms.” DT It was written as a protest song that evolved out of the couple’s peace activism and bed-ins starting in March 1969 during their honeymoon. In December of that year they launched a protest against the Vietnam War with a series of black-and-white posters in twelve major cities around the world declaring “War Is Over! If You Want It – Happy Christmas from John & Yoko.” WK

“John Lennon was always rock’s most Dickensian character, and here, he emulates A Christmas Carol to a tee, stopping just short of pronouncing ‘God bless us, every one!’” DMA Christmas Carol is the best-loved of all his stories not only because it fits the season’s hopes, but because, like the best records of the Beatles and Phil Spector, the love it inspires is equal to the love it creates.” DM

“Happy Xmas” has since become a Christmas classic. Other chart versions have been recorded by Idols (#5 UK, 2003), Sarah McLachlan (#5 AC, 2006), the Fray (#50 BB, 2006), and Josh Groban (#4 AC, 2017). The Alarm, Melissa Etheridge, and REO Speedwagon have also recorded the song.


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First posted 12/22/2023.

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