[Do stick around for the punchline.]
So I’m in the local liquor store here in SoCal, owned by the Mexican Mafia and clerked by Armenians, buying a few oil cans of Foster’s green, the ale, not the blue one, the lager. [Ace, the closest thing to an English bitter you’ll find stateside in mass production.]
Anyway, it’s all Christmasy on the overhead music. Burl Ives’ “Holly Jolly Christmas,” jingle bell rockin’ kind of non-sectarian non-Jesusy stuff.
Feeling kind of up. Holidays are cool, esp the one that makes us somewhat less sucky to each other for a month.
Then John Lennon comes on. Now, I dig Lennon completely as an artist, even his solo stuff. And as a songwriter meself, I’m just in awe of this one, “Happy XMas [War is Over].” Even has a brilliant key change from the verse to the chorus, holding the sub-dominant and sneaking it in as the dominant to lead into the chorus.
I get it. A nice, even a great, piece of art. So this is Christmas, a Martian or a philosopher might say, from a very great distance above the human Christmas herd.
As for the “message” in the verses, there isn’t one. The near and the dear ones, the old and the young, whatever, blahblah.
So, on to the chorus, the reason for the song being:
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
What’s not to like? Major chordy, fit for Burl Ives, all holly and jolly.
Then the minor chord hits, sung with
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Shit, it sounds ominous now. Not holly or jolly atall.
Without any fear…
Thx, John & Yoko. But I wasn’t thinking about “fear” in the first place. Don’t think of a pink elephant! I wasn’t even thinking about “fear” until you mentioned it. Now all I’m thinking about is fear and not Merry Xmas.
Bummed me out. Fear. Thanks a lot, guys. Not feeling holiday atall anymore, just you can feel good, Tom, but not too good. Not with all the human suffering in the world. You have no right. To feel good while others are suffering, without any fear, well, you selfish bastard you.
The “official” video is an even bigger buzzkill. You want undifferentiated human suffering, you wanna feel bad about feeling good, this video’s for you, human suffering on parade if you needed to go find some.
So, picking up my tale, I’m making my way out with me Foster’s ale apologetically tucked under me arm, away from John & Yoko, and then the guy behind me has the nerve to wish me Merry Christmas. He obviously felt good about it, despite all the suffering in the world and all.
It was all I could do to hold the door open for him instead of slam it in his face, the selfish bastard.
LATE ADD: So the punchline is, a friend asked me to do a charity gig for the children, and I had to learn and sing harmony on Happy X-Mas [War is Over], if you want it, as if wanting wars to end makes it so. Now I can’t get the frigging song out of my head.
What a humbug.