On the 1st of December 1971 John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band released “Happy Xmas (War Is Over). The song was a response to the Vietnam War, which had appalled a generation of Americans and in turn inspired a global movement for peace.
That year Lennon and Ono had relocated from London to New York. They left to seek greater artistic and creative opportunities as they felt stifled and confined in Britain. Most of their mutual friends and colleagues were based in New York and the move gave them the freedom to become individual artists. This was especially significant for Lennon as he could move away from the association with The Beatles and express his unique vision.
The songs that Lennon composed as a solo artist were entirely different from The Beatles, especially the songs that achieved commercial success. At the height of their popularity they were known and loved for the innocent songs about courtship like “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”. However in the latter years of the Lennon/McCartney partnership the songs took on profound themes about politics and morality.
Lennon and McCartney were suspicious of organised religion and the Church, and in 1966 Lennon boldly proclaimed that their music was “more popular than Jesus”. However both grew up as nominal Anglicans. When McCartney was a boy he sung in the choir at St. Barnabas Church in Mossley Hill and Lennon`s first meeting occurred at a summer fete hosted by St Peter`s Church in Woolton. However the lyrics that underpin the 1967 single “All You Need Is Love” prove that the Christian message imbued their sensibilities as songwriters even if they refused to admit that they were still Christians.
Lennon`s crusade for peace culminated with this “Christmas record”. This is in fact a song with an overtly Christian message and entirely separate from the commercial secular music which still dominates the Charts. Lennon`s pleas to think of “the rich and the poor” and “the weak and the strong” is something that we should still think about each year.