Happy Xmas (War is Over) peaked at no 6 on the Go-Set National Top 40 on 10 February 1973.
BONUS CLIP BELOW – age-restricted video clip released by John and Yoko
“Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” was the culmination of more than two years of peace activism undertaken by John Lennon and Yoko Ono that began with the bed-ins they convened in March and May 1969, the first of which took place during their honeymoon. The song’s direct antecedent was an international multimedia campaign launched by the couple in December 1969 – at the height of the counterculture movement and its protests against America’s involvement in the Vietnam War – that primarily consisted of renting billboard space in 12 major cities around the world for the display of black-and-white posters that declared “WAR IS OVER! If You Want It – Happy Christmas from John & Yoko”.
This is a very unusual Christmas song. Instead of evoking sleigh bells and mistletoe, it asks us to think about those who live in fear, and collectively bring about the end of war. The call to action is the refrain “war is over, if you want it.”
It’s an esoteric but not unfounded concept that John Lennon and Yoko Ono also put forth in “Imagine”: If enough people want something to happen, it will. So the idea was to get us to actively desire peace, which could bring about the end of war.
This song is also on our Spotify playlist.
This official John and Yoko clip includes some confronting war images. To see it click ‘Watch on YouTube‘, then ‘I understand and wish to proceed‘.
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