Published December 23rd, 2015 at 3:00 PM
As we near the end of the holiday season, many of us are also nearing the end of our holiday ropes.
Thanksgiving came early and left bloated. Chanukah had its eight-night residency at beginning of the month. Milad un Nabi is either currently in swing or coming up, depending upon which team you play for. And this week, Christmas, America’s portliest of holidays, will finally begin its slow waddle back to hibernation – not to rise again until next summer or whenever the big box store gods choose to begin their 2016 reaping.
For those of us who celebrate Christmas, or even those who are unwitting spectators, this week can unearth a wide ray of unexpected emotions. In these times, I find music to be the best remedy for holiday ills and the best bedfellow for holiday joys.
But what jams should you rock in your Kansas City Christmas soundtrack? Fear not my little elves, Flatland has you covered. We have scoured the Christmas song zeitgeist and put together a playlist of tunes that will serve as your holiday Swiss army knife. So if you should run into any of the following situations, feel free to lean on these candy canes.
For instance, if…
You just flew into town to be with family and must have barbecue before settling in for the eternity that will be your stay with the parents. Arthur Bryant’s on Brooklyn Ave. is a good bet and will give you a chance to take a detour through 18th & Vine, just for the bells of it. As you pass through those vaunted roadways, let Bird, one of its greatest sons, drop some hot sax on you with his fabulous rendition of “White Christmas”.
Charlie Parker – White Christmas
You just realized that you missed the Amazon shipping deadline and now you’re going to have to purchase all of your gifts in-store, like it’s 2010 (gasp!). One thing is certain – Target is going to be a post-apocalyptic hellscape. As you fight your way through the onslaught, you’re going to need to stay turnt up, and metalcore may just be your only friend. Try August Burns Red’s sweet, subtle rendition of “Joy to the World” which goes from Mr. Rogers to Rambo in two shakes of a reindeer’s tail.
August Burns Red – Joy to the World
Between the fatigue from travel, the inescapable family time, and the stress of being subjected to childhood memories you hoped to forget, you have up and lost your Christmas spirit. Have a listen to “The Bell that Couldn’t Jingle” by Burt Bacharach (who was born in Kansas City). It’s a story about an empty bell that couldn’t jingle until Jack Frost filled it with a frozen tear. Except, in your case, the “frozen tear” will be copious amounts of alcohol. Just be sure to avoid doing anything that may become the childhood memory your nieces and nephews will spend their whole lives trying to forget.
Burt Bacharach & Herb Alpert – The Bell That Couldn’t Jingle
You went a bit overboard recapturing the Christmas spirit last night and now feel like there are elves hammering away on toys in your head. Try some Advil with a glass of “Deck the Halls” by hometown heroes, Republic Tigers. It’s an even keel, vanilla arrangement that will keep that spirit train pumping without disturbing the morning shift going on in your brain. And remember, eat lots of protein.
Republic Tigers – Deck the Halls
The gifts are wrapped, Christmas Eve dinner is cleaned up, and the family is all in bed, but you can’t sleep, even though you have quiet time to yourself for the first time in four days. Lie down and let KC’s own David George gently guide you to visions of sugar plums with his blues rock track, “That’s All I Want For Christmas” off his recent Christmas Ain’t A Drag project.
The David George Crooked Christmas Orchestra – That’s All I Want For Christmas
It’s Christmas morning, the little ones have just started opening their presents, and Gam-Gam decides it’s a good time to start talking about building a wall to “keep Mexico from sending their drug dealers and rapists up here.” You can’t celebrate Christ’s birth without some good old-fashioned racism, can you? Show Gam-Gam that American and Latino cultures can co-exist with “Christmas in the City” by Diego Chi, of KC’s Making Movies, who turns a traditional-style holiday ballad into a salsa banger that will either have Gam-Gam dancing or denouncing Trump. As long as her hip holds out, you win no matter what.
Ugly Christmas Sweater – Christmas in the City
You made it. It’s Christmas night and your holiday obligations are done. It’s time to unwind and take in some personal time. Why not head down to the Plaza and enjoy the lights? Better yet, pop on some headphones and listen to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, by KC R&B vocalist Oleta Adams, as you stroll along iconic Brush Creek. If you’re lucky, the juxtaposition of the creek’s sewage stink and the radiant lights of the Plaza will remind you that no matter how rough the Christmas season may get, you can always find its beauty somehow – even if only for a fleeting, stench-filled moment.
Oleta Adams – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Disagree? Have any other KC holiday jams that didn’t make the list? Let me know by commenting below, emailing me at pdancalderon [at] gmaildotcom, or finding me on Twitter @dansascity.