Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Songs #63 & 64 of 9999 - It's TWOsday!

Song #63 of 9999                                                Song #64 of 9999

Title: Happy Xmas (War is Over)                       Title: Wonderful Christmas Time
Artist: John & Yoko/The Plastic Ono Band        Artist: Paul McCartney
Year: 1971                                                           Year: 1979
Album: N/A - single release only                        Album: N/A - single release only

It's TWOsday and I'm breaking out two Christmas-time singles that are likely well-known to anyone reading this blog. (Is anyone reading this blog?) If ever there were two songs placed side-by-side to exemplify just how different John Lennon and Paul McCartney are (or certainly were by the time The Beatles had disbanded), these would be the ones.

Lennon's penchant for expressing personal, often intimate, feelings in his music, along with his use of the pop music medium to bring attention to social issues that concerned him, forms the core of his solo work in its entirety. His devotion to the anti-war cause saturates his 1971 Christmas song, which is really a protest song against the Vietnam War set in the context of a holiday that his audience (the American public ostensibly) considers the happiest time of the year. If this song, with its anthemic chorus, didn't motivate you to speak out against the war or grasp that it is within the power of the people to affect foreign policy ("War is over if you want it"), then nothing will. I realize we live in different times, but is there anyone in the pop music world today who could stir the masses the way John Lennon (and, to be fair, a few others—especially Bob Dylan) could?

Certainly not Paul McCartney. His "Wonderful Christmas Time" is insanely catchy but has zero substance. "The moon is right/The spirit's up/We're here tonight/And that's enough." Ding dong. Was there ever an artist more ready for the carefree 80s? Hey, I'm not a grinch, but if we're going to compare the output of Lennon and McCartney post-Beatles, I'll take Lennon's uneven, often dated, collection over McCartney's beautiful melodies and angelic voice supporting mindless lyrical pap any day.

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