Guitar lesson for

Happy Xmas (War is Over)

by John Lennon

Video lesson

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Lyrics and chords

           A                              Bm
So this is Christmas... and what have you done?
             E                            A
Another year over... and a new one just begun

                   D                             Em
    And so this is Christmas... I hope you heard from
                     A                            D
    The near and the dear ones... the old and the young

                     G                            A
        A very Merry Christmas... and a happy New Year
                          Em         G                D      E         
        Let's hope it's a good one....... without any fear

               A                                           Bm
And so this is Christmas (War is over)... for weak and for strong (If you want it)
                 E                                          A
For rich and the poor ones (War is over)... the world is so wrong (Now)

                 D                                            Em
    And so happy Christmas (War is over)... for black and for white (If you want it)
                   A                                            D
    For yellow and red ones (War is over)... let's stop all the fight (Now)

                     G                            A
        A very Merry Christmas... and a happy New Year
                          Em         G               D      E
        Let's hope it's a good one...... without any fear

               A                                           Bm
And so this is Christmas (War is over)... and what have we done? (If you want it)
             E                                        A
Another year over (War is over)... and a new one just begun (Now)

                 D                                            Em
    And so happy Christmas (War is over)... we hope you heard from (If you want it)
                     A                                          D
    The near and the dear ones (War is over)... the old and the young (Now)

                     G                            A
        A very Merry Christmas... and a happy New Year
                          Em         G               D      E
        Let's hope it's a good one...... without any fear

A              Bm        
War is over... if you want it
E              A
War is over... now-----------

Chord shapes

Here’s how to play the chords needed in this song, in their simplest form:

E |–––0–––2–––0–––2–––0––––3–––
B |–––2–––3–––0–––3–––0––––0–––
G |–––2–––4–––1–––2–––0––––0–––
D |–––2–––4–––2–––0–––2––––0–––
A |–––0–––2–––2–––––––2––––2–––
E |–––––––––––0–––––––0––––3–––
      A   Bm  E   D   Em   G

Chord progressions

Big picture, there are these three progressions you’ll need to play the full song. Important note: you’re on each chord for 12 counts! And furthermore, you can optionally play a few variations of each chord within those 12 counts – more on that in the tabs below.

Progression #1

"So this is Christmas, and what have you done..."
A . . . Bm . . . E . . . A . . .

Progression #2

"And so this is Christmas, I hope you have fun..."
D . . . Em . . . A . . . D . . .

Progression #3

"A very merry Christmas, and a happy new year..."
G . . . A . . . Em . G . D . E .

Strumming pattern

The key to approaching the strumming is to look at things in terms of 3 counts per measure. This is, as opposed, to looking at 4 counts per measure - which is usually the norm for popular music. Written out, this would sound like this (DOWN… down up down up). If you can, try to accent (give emphasis) to the 1 count of each measure.

1 + 2 + 3 +              D = down strum
D   D U D U              U = up strum
>                        > = add accent & emphasis

If you want a simpler version, use the same counting but only do downstrums. With this said, still try to add accent to the 1 count if you can.

1 + 2 + 3 +              D = down strum
D   D   D                U = up strum
>                        > = add accent & emphasis

Given the patterns above, you want to play 4 measures of each chord (3 beats per measure X 4 total measures = 12 counts total).

Adding fancy chord variations for each progression

This is where this song gets fun to play, though also a bit challenging! Specifically, I’m talking about how each chord can itself be turned into 4 separate chords, with a melodic through-tone. Play the strumming pattern I showed above one time for each of the 4 chords shown in each group below.

Fancy chords for progression #1

“And so this is Christmas…”

E |––––0–––––––0–––––––0–––––––0–––
B |––––2–––––––0–––––––3–––––––2–––
G |––––2–––––––2–––––––2–––––––2–––
D |––––2–––––––2–––––––2–––––––2–––
A |––––0–––––––0–––––––0–––––––0–––
E |––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
       A     Asus2   Asus4     A

“And what have you done…”

E |––––2––––––2––––––0––––––2––––––
B |––––3––––––2––––––3––––––3––––––
G |––––4––––––4––––––4––––––4––––––
D |––––4––––––4––––––4––––––4––––––
A |––––2––––––2––––––2––––––2––––––
E |––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
       Bm   Bmsus2 Bmsus4   Bm

“Another year over…”

E |–––––0––––––0––––––0––––––0–––––
B |–––––0––––––0––––––0––––––0–––––
G |–––––2––––––1––––––1––––––1–––––
D |–––––2––––––2––––––4––––––2–––––
A |–––––2––––––2––––––2––––––2–––––
E |–––––0––––––0––––––0––––––0–––––
      Esus4    E    Eadd9    E

“A new one just begun…”

E |––––0–––––––0–––––––0–––––––0–––
B |––––2–––––––0–––––––3–––––––2–––
G |––––2–––––––2–––––––2–––––––2–––
D |––––2–––––––2–––––––2–––––––2–––
A |––––0–––––––0–––––––0–––––––0–––
E |––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
       A     Asus2   Asus4     A

Fancy chords for progression #2

“And so this is Christmas…”

E |––––2––––––0––––––3––––––2––––––
B |––––3––––––3––––––3––––––3––––––
G |––––2––––––2––––––2––––––2––––––
D |––––0––––––0––––––0––––––0––––––
A |––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
E |––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
       D    Dsus2  Dsus4    D

“I hope you have fun…”

E |–––––0––––––0––––––2––––––0–––––
B |–––––0––––––4––––––0––––––0–––––
G |–––––0––––––0––––––0––––––0–––––
D |–––––2––––––2––––––2––––––2–––––
A |–––––2––––––2––––––2––––––2–––––
E |–––––0––––––0––––––0––––––0–––––
       Em   EmMaj7  Emadd9   Em

“The near and the dear ones…”

E |––––0–––––0–––––0–––––0–––––––––
B |––––3–––––2–––––0–––––2–––––––––
G |––––2–––––2–––––2–––––2–––––––––
D |––––2–––––2–––––2–––––2–––––––––
A |––––0–––––0–––––0–––––0–––––––––
E |––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
     Asus4   A   Asus2   A

“The old and young…”

E |––––2––––––0––––––3––––––2––––––
B |––––3––––––3––––––3––––––3––––––
G |––––2––––––2––––––2––––––2––––––
D |––––0––––––0––––––0––––––0––––––
A |––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
E |––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
       D    Dsus2  Dsus4    D

Fancy chords for progression #3

Note, this one is easier! You stay on most of the chords for 12 full counts.

“A very merry Christmas…”

E |––––3–––––––––––––––––––––––––––
B |––––0–––––––––––––––––––––––––––
G |––––0–––––––––––––––––––––––––––
D |––––0–––––––––––––––––––––––––––
A |––––2–––––––––––––––––––––––––––
E |––––3–––––––––––––––––––––––––––
       G

“And a happy new year…”

E |––––0–––––––––––––––––––––––––––
B |––––2–––––––––––––––––––––––––––
G |––––2–––––––––––––––––––––––––––
D |––––2–––––––––––––––––––––––––––
A |––––0–––––––––––––––––––––––––––
E |––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
       A

“Let’s hope it’s a good one…”

E |––––0––––––––––––3––––––––––––––
B |––––0––––––––––––0––––––––––––––
G |––––0––––––––––––0––––––––––––––
D |––––2––––––––––––0––––––––––––––
A |––––2––––––––––––2––––––––––––––
E |––––0––––––––––––3––––––––––––––
       Em           G

“Without any fear…”

E |––––2––––––––––––0––––––––––––––
B |––––3––––––––––––0––––––––––––––
G |––––2––––––––––––1––––––––––––––
D |––––0––––––––––––2––––––––––––––
A |–––––––––––––––––2––––––––––––––
E |–––––––––––––––––0––––––––––––––
       D            E

After this final E, you start over with progression #1 (resolve to an A).

Good luck!

I hope this helped. Let me know if you have any questions.

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