Today, we will listen to one that almost everyone I know really likes: John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).” There are things about it that I like. Well, there’s one thing I like about it: “So this is Christmas?” That’s a great opening line and totally in keeping with the best that Lennon was capable of. So why don’t I like it?
There are a number of technical reasons that the song is less than stellar. Let’s start with the typically mushy production by Phil Spector — a man who destroyed a lot of otherwise fine music. There also isn’t much care taken in shoehorning the lyrics into that melody. Listening to “A very merry Christmas” is like listening to fingernails on chalkboard. It isn’t helped by the fact that we can hear Yoko Ono’s screeching on it. I’ve never doubted that she was a smart person, but she had no artistic talent to speak of. A poor person with that lack of talent would never have thought it acceptable to foist it on the public.
But to be honest, I could forgive all that. I just can’t take listening to John Lennon tell me how to improve the world from his installations at places like The Dakota. This was produced right at the time of “Imagine,” which has to be the most presumptuous song ever. But before you all tell me how wrong I am, remember that your opinions about these songs are just the same as mine: based upon feelings. I’m not saying that they aren’t competently written and professionally recorded; I’m not saying you shouldn’t like them; I’m just telling you why I find them annoying.
So this is “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”: