Sometimes in a year that’s been… a bit naff (yeah, that’s about right), you need to visit the familiar nuggets. And to me, The Beatles are extremely familiar territory. All of the Fab Four recorded holiday themed songs (yes, even George, though his song more about the turning of the calendar… or the tides… or something like that).
No, I’m not going to use that Christmas song from him (if you want to hear it, click here). But he has recorded covers of some old chestnuts over the years, including “The Christmas Song” (i.e. “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”). While Macca’s recent vocals have been a bit rough (as Yoda might’ve said, “when 78 years old you reach, sound as young will you not”), his treatment of this song (with Diana Krall on piano) is like sipping bourbon while thumbing through photo albums of Christmases past.
Ah, Ringo. He is the eternally affable Beatle. He was the first to appear on The Simpsons. And he’s always game to record almost any kind of song – even novelties. And he recorded an entire album of Christmas tunes
a decade or so ago twenty one years ago (time flies – more on that later). Some are… not good. But others are fun romps. One of the best is a cover of The Beatles’ original, “Christmas Time is Here Again.” It’s not a particularly complex song but Ringo gives it a good whack here.
Now George was definitely not a celebrant of the Christmas holiday, especially after he started studying Hindu religious practices. The man was extremely spiritual, and his first two post-Beatles solo albums are clear proof of this. But he also recorded some hopeful songs, one of which was inspired by a poem engraved in the walls of his mansion at Friar Park, Henley-on-Thames. It’s a wonderfully hopeful song for these times: “Ring out the old, ring in the new / Ring out the false, ring in the true.” Without any further ado, “Ding Dong Ding Dong” (and its admittedly cheesy official video with multiple nods to his old band).
I’m posting this on the 40th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon. I’ve remembered this date previously (in 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2015, and 2016). His is the first celebrity death that truly shook me. It still resonates today.
In 2020 John would’ve been 80 years old. I’m sure he would have a ton to say about the current state of affairs in the United States (his adopted home) and the United Kingdom (his home country), as well as things happening worldwide. He’d probably still be rattling the jewelry of those who choose war over peace, fear over hope. He’d probably be on on-again, off-again friendly terms with his former bandmates. And he’s probably still be writing and recording music of varying quality – I can imagine the concerts he’d hold to both thank and raise money for essential workers in New York City.
While he had a conflicted persona – one both at war with his own demons yet yearning for world peace, one that shunned one son yet doted upon another, one that decried his former collaborator’s ballads yet penned some of equally syrupy calibre – he really did want people all over the world to give peace a chance. And when he wrote a Christmas tune, the refrain sent similar advice: “War is over! (If you want it.)”
So “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” and continue to rest in peace, John Winston Ono Lennon.
Part of sprite’s 2020 Virtual Advent Tour.