Happy Xmas (war is over)

In the days before The One Show, a popular magazine style TV show there was Nationwide, a popular Magazine style TV show. I tended to miss Nationwide  because it coincided with our family dinners, these were the days where families ate together which was usually timed for about  10 minutes after dad got home from work.

One of the regular contributors to the show was Donnie, a balding rotund Scotsman who was probably an experienced journalist but even to my 12 year old self seemed to be yesterdays man. On one show that I did catch Donnie and someone else were discussing the latest clutch of Xmas single releases, I don’t think that this level of popular culture was a regular feature and so it caught my attention.

On the subject of John Lennon’s latest single Donnie was quite bilious,’I hate everything he does, it’s all so serious’ was the gist of his  criticism. I mentally crossed Donnie off my Christmas card list.

The single in question was Happy Xmas(war is over) which was released in the UK in 1972 a year after it’s USA debut. I’ve always liked the murky sound of the single, based on an old English song Skewball or Stewball which was about a racehorse. Its likely this was a direct copy by Lennon, he was working in a hurry and was more concerned in a statement than an original piece of art. Much to my amazement I found I remembered the original song, perhaps we had sung it at school, there were a few years in my childhood when almost everything went into my memory banks to be retrieved  decades later. Not the case these days.

The project had started as a series of black and white posters, a simple message.

War is over, if you want it.

In a recent radio documentary a younger presenter, a semi famous actor, was eulogising Lennon but after rightly praising his political stance he negated it all by saying Lennon was totally unrealistic and now his commitment to peace just seems like a load of hippie bullshit (my words).

For a long while John Lennon was the nearest I had to a hero, he was a deeply flawed human being but that has always been part of his appeal. What I liked, or even loved, about Lennon was his intelligence. These days you need a PhD to appear merely bright but Lennon, who left school at 16 had a brain that was on fire. He just kept on moving, music, words, ideas art were all hoovered up, he did a lot of thinking out loud and made a lot of mistakes in public. All this was filtered through the personality of a guy from Liverpool who wanted to communicate and share these thoughts and ideas. In this way complex themes became simple, and simple is easy to understand.

War is over – if you want it.

Don’t overcomplicate the message. I’ve seen a lot of wars happen and they are all terrible, it seems that all world leaders need a war on their CV before they feel they are creditable. Trump seems to be starting several all at once, Lennon was right, out leaders are psychopaths.


So here’s a video of Lennon in full flow and then a video of Merry Xmas War is Over its not full of snowmen and Christmas trees, in a way Donnie was right, its all so serious but then again so is war.

And so this is the last post of the year, I’ll take a break and be back in January.

Thefutureispast is available on Facebook and twitter if anyone fancies checking that out. Many thanks to everyone who has stopped by and had a look and an especially big thank you to everyone who has commented and been supportive.

And so Merry Xmas and a happy new year lets hope it’s a good one.

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2 Responses to Happy Xmas (war is over)

  1. A fine pre-holiday post! Well said regarding the flaws being what makes Lennon both a fascinating and important figure. The humanity and passion shine through all the cracks and can still shed some light if we’re receptive.

    Have a good break.




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