Holiday Horrors: “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)”

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As I alluded to in my previous post, John Lennon bugs me. For a long time, I couldn’t quite put my finger on why he bothered me so much. But then I finally figured it out: He thought he had all the answers.

This is the big theme running through his songs: “I’ve figured out what’s going on this little mudball called Earth. If all of you simpletons would just chill out and follow me, you’d all be so much happier.” They all point an accusing finger at the rest of humanity, and never at himself. Anyone who questioned him was just some square who didn’t vibrate to the same magic wavelength as he and Yoko.

Instant karma’s gonna get you. Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can. If you just sat here and watched the wheels with me, everything would seem so simple, man!

I know that a lot of his attitude can be attributed to his troubled upbringing, that it was a product of insecurity and abandonment issues. Even so, he often sounds less like a musical genius and more like a Jim Jones-esque cult leader.

It’s even apparent in his relatively benign holiday song, “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)”. Musically, it’s better than Sir Paul’s Yuletide tune. But lyrically, like a lot of Lennon’s songs, it has a huge chip on its shoulder.

First line of the song: So this is Christmas/And what have you done? “I don’t know what you did for Christmas, but I’ve recorded a classic holiday song that people will sing 30 years from now. Because I’m a giver. What did you do with your holiday season, huh? Probably just bought a buncha presents and drank egg nog, huh? You make me sick.”

And the refrain War is over/If you want it. “Look folks, I’ve done all the work already. I could make war stop tomorrow in a snap. But you have to want it. I guess you assholes just don’t want it bad enough. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go on a journey of introspection and self discovery. Or maybe just check out for a while and get toasted with Harry Nilsson.”