“So this is Christmas. And what have you done?” Those words always spoke to me much more than any other Christmas song that was just a pile of mundane reciting of a holiday cheer, without any real meaning to it. I’m not Grinching this year, I promise. I like holidays, I like the overall cheer and joy, playing 80’s music, eating great food. Sign me up. But I also came to the point in life where I crave real, honest, meaningful content, art, material.

I remember the time I first heard this song – Happy Xmas (War is Over), about 10 or so years ago, in New York, where it was made. Written and sung by John Lennon, and like everything he does, this particular Christmas song had his signature madness to it. Most importantly, it was real. Yeah it’s all great all you want for Christmas is this or that, but hold on a minute. So this is Christmas. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very Merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

Without any fear. “Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear”. The simplicity of his writing, the existential, monumental issues we all deal with in life and his ability to reduce them to these fundamental, easy to grasp concepts is what makes people still passionately invested in his life, 39 years after his death. The comments on his or Beatles videos on Youtube have heated discussions every single day, as he’s alive now, band still together, and still creating.

December in New York and Christmas in New York always reminds me of John Lennon. Because of his death on the 8th, and the most epic Christmas song ever made. This is my first December back in the city after 11 years, and being a decade older, (hopefully) wiser, it stings me even more i, we, didn’t get to see all that he would become, all that he would say, write, comment. All the epic songs he would write, compose, sing. All the idiots in power he would troll! The world we live in at the moment, I would give everything to hear what John Lennon has to say about it and what difference he would make.

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 one
Let’s stop all the fight

War is over, if you want it
War is over now.

Who else on this planet would insert his agenda of stoping the war into a Christmas song? And John Lennon would be so entertaining on the internet! I dream about what his Twitter would be like, with his one liners, witty but sarcastic, humorous, gritty views on the horrors of this world. In the world of Paul McCartneys that never stand for anything of real importance but plugging their material, we needed John.

His love of New York was so mesmerizing to me, alongside quotes about how New York is the center of the creative world and you had to be here, same as in the time of Rome you’d want to be in Rome, not in the suburbs. His struggle to get his Green Card as the Nixon administration was trying to deport him for 4 years, for standing up against the Vietnam War and people senselessly dying; it was almost laughable, the notion that the world’s largest, most powerful imperial nation, United States, could be seriously threatened by a writer, a singer, sometimes painter. Nixon caught on tape shitting his pants, saying – “We need to do something about this guy, this guy can sway the election!”

Peace had come at a price. Peace is a very expensive product to plug. Wars are so much easier to sell. And John had so much sway, the government was terrified of him. Who do we have now, today, that has even the slightest percentage of what John was and was doing?

There is a study saying The Beatles had the power over masses only comparable to Hitler. And most of that power comes from John Lennon. So much so you can’t not think about his murder and how it doesn’t make any sense a fat guy from Hawaii that never held a gun in his hands can so precisely aim to disconnect all the major arteries pumping his heart, so that he can’t be revived. There are many books written about the CIA’s involvement in John’s death, you can take it further and research on your own, if interested. I’m way too spent to get into it; realization that these one of a kind people who can make real change in this world always get stopped is defeating.

John Lennon spent 18 months in Los Angeles, and he hated it. All he did was get drunk and create shit. He was insane, aggressive. You can’t understand how sunny paradise can do that to you? Go. Live. Try. LA does that to you, which none of you that watch movies with palms can’t comprehend. I’m obsessed with the story of John coming to Troubadour in LA with the menstrual pad glued to his forehead and heckling the act on stage. He once said the only thing LA has is Troubadour and Rainbow. Exactly that. When people harass me about why I left California where its so great and sunny for gritty and cold New York, I get seizures.

Central Park was always the part of New York I liked most. When I need to think, or decide something, or have a creative block, I always go walk around there; there is something so goth about that park, how can a park be goth, I know, but there is just something about that place that calms me down, and gets my creative juices flowing. It’s so majestic, so gritty, so real, so poetic. John’s ashes are spread in Central Park. Ashes do not decompose. They may last for centuries. He truly owns that park; not just because of the Imagine mosaic or Strawberry Fields, or the fact you can see the Dakota from the park, its because you feel him in the park. You truly feel him. Everywhere you turn.

As much as he was serious about the world and its issues; his humor, wit, sarcasm, madness about him is what makes him legendary. Once in the ’73 while doing coke with Elton John in Sherry-Netherland Hotel in New York, and someone knocked at the door, he sent Elton to peep through the peephole, check who it is. It’s Andy (Warhol), says Elton, about to open the door, while John starts shaking his head while making the gesture of cutting his neck, saying: “No fucking way, he always has his fucking camera with him, tell him to fuck off”. Andy Warhol. What stories this city holds, I can not even begin.

I often fight with my friends about who’s a better songwriter, Lennon or McCartney, and I always had a particular axe to grind with McCartney after I saw reporters ask him about John’s murder, the day after, saying: “It’s a drag”. Its a drag. It’s a drag you say about someone bumping into you on a subway. The lack of emotion, jealousy that was seeping through his teeth, made me realize there is two types of people in the Beatles and in the world. Light, cheery, diplomatic ones who stand for nothing and bother no one (hence don’t get killed), and the ones that are full of madness, honesty, truth, the ones that are a force of nature and are either loved or passionately hated.

In the years of their very public fights when they wrote songs about each other, or rather sent messages to each other through songs, here comes John Lennon, an inventor of diss track, and says, in a song, the lyrics, to Paul:

The only thing you done was Yesterday
And since you’re gone you’re Just Another Day

A pretty face may last a year or two
But pretty soon they’ll see what you can do
The sound you make is muzak (elevator music) to my ears
You must have learned something in all those years

Not sure you understand the brilliance, the nitty-gritty of this move.

I made a new best friend last week when he, the new friend in question sent me a message on instagram saying: “Paul isn’t even the second best Beatle. It’s George.”

I read somewhere the other day that the brilliance of John Lennon over Paul McCartney and everyone else on this planet is the fact he has a cross quality between happiness and tragedy. The simplicity of his lyrics and the rage you feel in his voice, there will never be another songwriter who can paint the tragedy of a situation in 9 words, like his song “Mother”, about his mother that abandoned him:

Mother, you had me
But I never had you

How do you do this? How do you find these words? Why are they so simple but slit you through your throat? How do you write like this?

People also say Paul does the love songs better, and John does rage and pain better, but what better showcases love than these words put together?

All my life’s been a long slow knife
I was born just to get to you

But if he only had rage, tragedy, it wouldn’t be as brilliant as the fact he is as light as he is dark. Sarcasm awarded specially to those with hard childhoods and choice to ether fold or laugh at the shit circumstance repeatedly thrown your way. At his ’72 concert at Madison Square Garden, between the songs, the most successful singer/songwriter of all times, he yells at the crowd – “Welcome to the rehearsal!” Or even more epic: “We’ll get it right the next time”. Or his legendary shout out at The Beatles last performance together in ’69, on the Rooftop of the Apple Corp, after they finished the performance for the last time ever, he grabs the mic and says: “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we’ve passed the audition.”

What do you do? What is your truth? Are your thoughts aligned with your words, and are your words aligned with your actions? What do you stand for?

So this is Christmas
And what have you done?