How They Won the War

“…And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong
And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let’s stop all the fight
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear…”

John Lennon

 
 

Jake Gyllenhaal in Jarhead (Sam Mendes, 2005)

 
 

Third studio album by Irish rock band U2, released on 28 February 1983. The album has come to be regarded as U2’s first overtly political album, in part because of songs like “Sunday Bloody Sunday“, “New Year’s Day“, as well as the title, which stems from the band’s perception of the world at the time; Bono stated that “war seemed to be the motif for 1982.”

 
 

John Lennon in How I Won the War  (Richard Lester, 1967)

 
 

Iain MacMillan designed the cover for the couple’s single Happy Xmas (War Is Over), where he skillfully morphed photographs of John and Yoko together.

 
 

Originally a protest song about the Vietnam War, “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” has since become a Christmas standard, frequently covered by other artists and appearing on compilation albums of seasonal music, and named in polls as a holiday favorite “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” was the culmination of more than two years of peace activism undertaken by John Lennon and Yoko Ono that began with the bed-ins they convened in March and May 1969, the first of which took place during their honeymoon. The song’s direct antecedent was an international multimedia campaign launched by the couple in December 1969—at the height of the counterculture movement and its protests against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War—that primarily consisted of renting billboard space in 12 major cities around the world for the display of black-and-white posters that declared “WAR IS OVER! If You Want It – Happy Christmas from John & Yoko”. Although this particular slogan had previously appeared in the 1968 anti-war songs “The War Is Over” by Phil Ochs and “The Unknown Soldier” by The Doors (which features the refrain, “The war is over.”), its subsequent use by Lennon and Ono may just be coincidental; there is no evidence to confirm whether or not they were acquainted with these prior works.

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