Saturday, December 24, 2011

John & Yoko: Happy Xmas (War is Over)

Our Bubbling Under selection for this Christmas Eve was released in December 1971 by John and Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band. Originally released in green vinyl for the 1971 holiday season, “Happy Xmas (War is Over) was a anti-Vietnam war protest record that subsequently became a Christmas favorite. It charted on Billboard’s Christmas chart at #3; however, it never made it to the Hot 100 chart let alone the Top 40.

The single was subsequently released every year. In 1972, Apple utilized the label schema from Lennon and Ono’s “Sometime in New York City” that shows John and Yoko’s faces morphing into one person. All versions of the single have the couple giving a Christmas message to their children from previous marriages: Kyoko and Julian.

In 1982, Geffen Records, Lennon’s label at the time of his 1980 death, rereleased the single as part of their “John Lennon Collection” LP – the single was released under Lennon’s name only. The original single listed the artists under as "John & Yoko with the Plastic Ono Band and the Harlem Community Choir." Unlike the original which had Yoko's “Listen the Snow is Falling” as the flip side, “Beautiful Boy” was selected as the “B” side.

In 1993, Capitol Records released "Happy Xmas" once again in green vinyl as a jukebox only single. They released numerous Beatles’ singles at the same time in colored vinyl for jukebox play. The series has become a popular collectors’ item and are available at relatively inexpensive prices despite the limited numbers of these singles that were available.

Geffen release picture sleeve from 1982

While some will balk at the title of this single as “Happy ‘Xmas’” as being a late twentieth effort to eliminate Christ’s name from Christmas by “X”ing it out. The replacement of Christ with X goes back centuries as a shortcut – as Christ in Greek is written with the letter chi – which looks exactly like the English/Latin letter “X.” The designation of X for Christ goes back at least 1000 years.

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