john vs. paul: christmas edition

No, no . . . we’re not talking John the Baptist vs. St. Paul. Yes, once again, Evil dips into the bottomless well of Beatle and Beatle-related trivia for today’s exercise.

Last week, Stephen Colbert joked that you may experience a seasonal malady whereby you find yourself repeatedly hearing “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney. Now, the Evil is fairly cool (and occasionally complicit) with the punchlinification of Paul’s career, life, and music, the gears of which spin on the shaft of the Lennon-McCartney schism. But today Evil steps forth to remind you of one thing:

If we’re going to lightly rag Paul’s holiday contribution, just remember that “Wonderful Christmastime” is infinitely, infinitely superior to John’s own Christmas tune. Because, though you might never have considered it before, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” is a horrible song.

Not saying “Wonderful Christmastime” ranks ups there with a “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” or “Christmas in Hollis”, but “Happy Xmas” is insufferable. It might in fact represent the nadir of Lennon’s music. Firstly, it just sounds like a stereotypical Christmas song. Replete with a keening children’s chorus, for Chrissakes. (Plus Yoko wailing in there.) You would know “Happy Xmas” is a Christmas song even if you couldn’t hear the vocal track—this coming from our would-be musical avant-garde savior. Lennon bumping up its keepin-it-real quotient by slapping in “Xmas” (oh no you dint!) and the parenthetical anti-war citation doesn’t help. It’s as if he knew he’d written four minutes of schlock and was desperate to redeem it. Mission failed, John.

“Wonderful Christmastime,” on the other hand, except for the “Ding dong, ding dong, ding dong” part, could be any song. It even has that goofy/cool ‘80s keyboard sound. Lift out the lyrics and it could nestle snugly into “Pipes of Peace.” And there’s the added bonus that it’s just what it needs to be—a slight, sentimental Christmas tune that doesn’t lunge for something it can’t and shouldn’t be.

One last point: both songs have been covered by a variety of execrable artists. But Paul’s holiday opus has not, to the best of my knowledge, been ravaged by the wretched pipes of one Celine Dion. That should just about wrap up this exercise, no?

Enjoy the holidays. If possible, hang your stockings with care. Remember: carelessly hung stockings falling into fireplaces is the number twenty-seventh leading cause of house fires.

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3 thoughts on “john vs. paul: christmas edition”

  1. I wonder which war was over. Happy Xmas was recorded in 1971, so Vietnam wasn’t over yet, and I don’t think the Brits were involved in any conflict at the time. Anyway, I think any artist who records a Christmas song loses a bit of coolness. It’s hard to pull off a Christmas song and remain avant-garde.

      1. if you think about it, that’s a confusing statement. war is over, but only if you want it? want war? if you want war, it’s over? you can’t always get what you want?

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