Thursday, December 8, 2005

Christmas Songs part 2: Happy Chrsitmas (War is Over)

I thought this would be especially appropriate today, given that this marks the 25th anniversary of the assasination of John Lennon. First, I'd like to tell my "when I heard" story, adn then I'll move on to the song.

I heard the news of his death that night, when I was staying at my grandmother's house. She was widowed, and lonely, and the three oldest kids in my family took turns staying the night at her house, which lay down the hill from ours in the mountains of North Carolina. I remmeber the day before, listeining to American Top 40 on the radio, and hoping that his comeback single "Starting Over" would reach the top of the charts. That night I watched television, and I believe it was CBS. I can't remember what was on that night; I think it was a movie.

As network programming was about to give way to the local news at 11:00, a "Special Report" graphic came up on the screen. I thought for a moment that something may have happened with the American hostages in Iran, but it was worse than that. The announcer informed me (and millions of others) that John Lennon had been shot and killed outside his apartment in New York City.

I was stunned.

I stayed up a little longer, watching the news, and went to bed around 11:30 (it was a school night). I turned on the radio, and the radio station out of Johnson City, TN was playing Beatles music. I left the radio on all night, and went to sleep with John, Paul, George and Ringo serenading me in a vain attempt to assure me that all would be right in the world.

The next day, people were talking about Lennon and The Beatles. Some were already making tasteless jokes about the shooting. I heard a couple of people ask what the big deal was; I just shook my head and kept myself focused on my schoolwork. A few days later, I went out and bought the "Starting Over" 45. I wish I still had it, but it was lost in a fire in 1990.

That's my story. On to the song.

"Happy Christmas (War Is Over)"-The Plastic Ono Band

"Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" was a single released by John and Yoko (and the Plastic Ono Band) in 1972, as part of an effort to keep protesting the war in Vietnam, but also as a general message of peach throughout the world.

Many things stand out to me in the song. First is the gently whispered "Happy Christmas John" "Happy Christmas Yoko" at the beginning. It's beautiful to hear these two people expressing their love for one another. The lyrics are pretty simple, but the joy with which they're sung carry the tune for me. Yoko is actually bearable in this song. In general, a beautiful, uplifting song, even if it's tampered a little by Lennon's fate.

War is over, if you want it.

1 comment:

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