Calexico has released a cover of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Christmas classic, “Happy Xmas (War is Over).” The Tuscon, Arizona-based indie rock band featured the song on their latest holiday album, Seasonal Shift.
“I love this song and I love the universality of the lyrics and the call and response sea of voices,” vocalist and guitarist Joey Burns said in a press release. “I decided to start as quiet as possible and find out how loud and massive we could make this song build.”
The band gave a slight southwestern-twist to the original tune, which was released along with an animated lyric video. The video shows pieces of paper drifting across the screen with animated drawings of the band performing the song along with scenes of the desert. In their version, they draw out the chorus, singing the line “War is over if you want it,” several more times than the original.
“We decided to not stop as the original had and see what would happen if we kept the trance and mantra going. This is something that we would do live onstage a lot and felt really good to try it at home in our makeshift studios scattered around the globe,” Burns said.
In November, Joe Wong and Mary Timony released a cover of Lennon and Ono’s “Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him” as a 40th anniversary celebration for their album Double Fantasy. In October, Sean Ono Lennon, their son, performed a rendition of his father’s 1970 song “Isolation” on Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show in honor of what would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday.
A new release from late rock legend David Bowie is due to come out next month and features a cover of Lennon’s “Mother.” Chris Cornell’s final studio album, No One Sings Like You Anymore, was released Dec. 11 and features a cover of Lennon’s “Watching The Wheels.”
Calexico was supposed to play the Hollywood Bowl in June for the annual KCRW World Festival, but the show was cancelled due to the pandemic. In early 2020, they co-headlined a tour with Iron & Wine. The two bands released a collaborative album, Years to Burn, last year, and they sat down with mxdwn to discuss the writing process for the album
Many artists have been releasing Christmas music lately, such as Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew, who shared a new single this week called “Depressed Unicorn Christmas Song,” which talks about the sadness many are facing celebrating the holidays alone this year. Electronic duo Sofi Tukker released their version of “Carol of the Bells,” called “Caröl Von Holz” in a collaboration with DJ Holzbläser. J.D. Cronise, frontman for The Sword, shared a cover of The Sonic’s “Santa Claus,” which is available on Bandcamp as a free download.
Featured image: Sharon Alagna