So This Is Christmas

Dec 19, 2013

At Christmas time in 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono embarked on their famous Peace Campaign.  A few months ago, we told you about an exhibition at the Taubman museum in Roanoke that explores the work that went into it.  Soon after their ‘year of peace’ they collaborated on another song on the same theme.

This demo recording of the song John Lennon and Yoko Ono worked on together offers us a chance to hear the precursor of what was to become a Christmas Classic.

Art History Professor Kevin Concannon, says Lennon made these demo recordings throughout his career.  “Some of them are actually more beautiful than the finished tracks.  They’re very poignant.”

Concannon is Director of the School of Visual Arts at Virginia Tech. He curated the Imagine Peace Exhibition now on display at the Taubman Museum of Art.  It traces the collaboration of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, crystalizing the theme of peace made manifest at holiday time.

"That Christmas in 1969 they did their  billboard campaign all around the world in different languages; war is over if you want it, happy Christmas from John and Yoko and I think from that moment there was this seed in his mind, in their minds to sort of make another Christmas song, make a song out of that, that could also be an anthem just like “give peace a chance’ had succeeded in being, to this day I think one of the great peace anthems of our time.”

Concannon, an expert on Yoko Ono, got her permission for us to share this never before officially released version of, “So This is Christmas.”

"So in October of 1971 they began working on the song basically developed from the billboard slogan that they put around the world in 1969 that Christmas. So what we hear on this tape is one of 2 versions and I’m honestly not sure which, but it was in the beginning of October that they begin working on the song and at the end of October, I think it was the 28th, they go into the studio with super producer Phil specter and they make the famous recording with the Harlem community choir that we hear every Christmas."