John Lennon combined his anti-war stance and a holiday sentiment in the 1971 song Happy Xmas (War is Over), which has become a holiday classic.
After the success of his album Imagine, Lennon realized a gentle touch would get across his antiwar stance and he wrote this song while living with Yoko Ono at New York City’s St. Regis Hotel.
Recorded a few months later in their Greenwich Village home, Lennon asked Phil Spector to produce the song, and worked with his wife Yoko, the Plastic Ono Band and the Harlem Community Choir, made up of young singers from ages four to 12.
One of the unique moments of the song is when Lennon whispers Happy Christmas Julian – a small shout out to his son, while Yoko whispers Happy Christmas Kyoko, a small shout out to her daughter.
Released on Apple Records in December 1971 in the United States, the song was the first Christmas-related song released by a former Beatle. Its success was not immediate, due to the late release and lack of promotion.
Fans on the other side of the Atlantic had to wait a year before the song was released in the UK due to a copyright dispute, but when released in November 1972, the song hit number four on the UK charts and was immediately played every holiday season, especially after Lennon’s death in 1980.
Since Lennon’s death, many artists had covered this song including Andy Williams, Neil Diamond, Celine Dion, Diana Ross, Jimmy Buffet, Jessica Simpson, Darlene Love and the Moody Blues.