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

For those who have been following my project, today is a “Little Saint Nick” in reverse. Two days ago, I posted a song by a band for whom I don’t much care, because the tune was the one I liked best related to a direct Christmas-associated theme of the day.

Now, it’s the opposite situation. Today my writing is not really much about the holidays. And though the artist in question is in my highest musical esteem, I don’t enjoy the song itself. I’ve never cared for it. I’ve tried. I swear I have. It has a reflective message. It promotes peace. It incorporates a sweet children’s choir.

Despite my efforts, when I hear this song, I want to switch the dial. I realize that many would consider this heresy, and I myself feel like I am being disloyal just in admitting it. My devotion to the Four Who Were Fab, the Lads from Liverpool, the Boys of Britain is known even among those who barely know me.

Sometimes, the musical chemistry is just off, and that is the situation with me and “Happy Xmas.”


When I had to choose the holiday song selection of December 8, no other tune was ever in the running.

Because today is the day, 32 years ago, that John Lennon died, age 40 years, 1 month, and 29 days. An age that I, for the first holiday season, am now past.

I don’t want the holidays to take a morbid turn, so I won’t dwell on the events of that day. Over this summer, as my own 40th birthday approached and arrived, I thought a lot about John Lennon–about his music and how songs of his, both with and without The Beatles, had influenced and even come to symbolize, for me, various episodes from my life. More frequently, I confronted the reality of the shortness of the time he was given. I became overwhelmed whenever I considered his creative output, produced within an undoubtedly compressed span, left behind for the world forever. And I became angry whenever I pondered the unfairness of his murder–not for his fans, or his friends, or even his family. Just for him.

Because 40 years isn’t enough for anyone, no matter how much or how little he or she has accomplished.

John would have turned 72 in October. He should have been 72 today.

The music of The Beatles has been so influential to so many. Even a song I don’t especially like by one of them still means more to me than most songs by everyone else.

So today’s song is John’s.

 “War is over. If you want it.”

Who am I to disagree?


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