As the music of the ’60s began to take on more social relevance, the same began to occur with original Christmas songs. Stevie Wonder made a plea that “Someday at Christmas men won’t be boys, Playing with bombs like kids play with toys,” John Lennon pronounced Happy Xmas (War Is Over) and Simon and Garfunkel put a socially relevant spin on the traditional Silent Night. Take a look at 10 Christmas songs from the past 40 plus years that sing for peace, love and harmony throughout the world.
Someday At Christmas– Stevie Wonder
Originally released as the title track of Stevie Wonder’s 1967 Christmas album, the song has had a long life and gained new fans thanks to current heartthrob Justin Bieber, who included a version he initially posted to YouTube in 2007 as the closing track on the deluxe version of his new holiday CD Under The Mistletoe.
7 O’Clock News/Silent Night– Simon & Garfunkel
The haunting audio of the 7 O’Clock News, featuring updates on the war in Vietnam, give added social relevance to this Simon & Garfunkel carol. Ironically, the song was not from a holiday album, but from their 1966 classic Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme which also included Scarborough Fair/Canticle, Homeward Bound and The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy).
Happy Xmas (War Is Over)– John Lennon
Released in 1971 by John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir, it has since become one of the top Christmas tunes of all time.
Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy– David Bowie & Bing Crosby
David Bowie’s pairing with Bing Crosby may have been one of the more unusual duets to ever occur, but in the original Peace on Earth, sung as a counterpoint to the classic Little Drummer Boy, they continued the musical cry for peace throughout the world.
I Believe In Father Christmas– Greg Lake
Greg Lake, best known as part of Emerson, Lake and Palmer and King Crimson claims to have written the song not as a traditional Christmas tune, but as a protest to the commercialization of Christmas. The haunting scenes of war included at the end of the video have stopped many video networks from airing the video with other Christmas videos during the holiday season.
My Grown Up Christmas List– Natalie Cole
Written by David Foster and frequent Real Housewives of Beverly Hills guester and former Mrs. Bruce Jenner, Linda Thompson, My Grown Up Christmas List was originally recorded by Foster, with Natalie Cole on vocals, for his non-holiday 1990 album River of Love. It has since also enjoyed success by both Amy Grant and Kelly Clarkson.
Do They Know It’s Christmas?– Band Aid
Written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, Do They Know It’s Christmas? was recorded in 1984 to raise money for the relief of the 1983-85 Ethiopian famine. The group, collectively known as Band Aid, featured Duran Duran, Boy George, George Michael, Sting, David Bowie, Paul McCartney and U2 and more. The following year, Geldof took things one step further with the debut of the Live Aid concerts.
This One’s For The Children– New Kids On The Block
From their 1989 holiday album Merry, Merry Christmas, This One’s For The Children finds the New Kids exploring their serious side with a song for those in need.
Christmas In America– Pat Benatar
Recorded as a charity single for 9/11, Pat Benatar’s patriotic Christmas In America asks to “Let peace resound throughout the world, especially on this day.”
Christmas Wish– She & Him
Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward‘s A Very She & Him Christmas, released just this year, contains this beautiful original holiday anthem that could very well become a Christmas classic, making the statement: “I look at all the toys under the Christmas tree, It makes me think about the way things could be, If people all over the world could just see them too.”
Can you think of any we’ve missed that you would like to see make the list? Let us know in the comments below!