Holiday season is upon us here in Jackson Hole! A time to reconnect with family, friends and enjoy some hearty meals. The snow is starting to fall, the ski resorts are opening and the community is abuzz with holiday cheer. There are a bunch of events around town celebrating this special time of year including the annual Turkey Trot on Thursday, Lighting of the Town Square on Friday, and The Hootenanny season kickoff at Pink Garter Theatre on Monday.
We have a strong focus on music discovery here at KHOL, So I wanted to gather a bunch of modern and classic tracks to fill your house with warmth, soul and revelry as we all gather around in the name of love.
Below you’ll find the entire playlist along with my thoughts on a few standouts.
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Every Thanksgiving in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia, multi-instrumentalist and producer Devonne Harris aka DJ Harrison and his family would gather around the TV for “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” special, made up of classic Peanuts animation and songs by Vince Guaraldi, including the track “Little Birdie.” With turkey and stuffing in mind, Harrison created his own unique version of the song featuring warm and soulful keyboard work that invites the listener into a cozy world of funky jazz. The heavy groove complements the light and fun lyrics marveling at the wonders of the Peanuts character Woodstock. Hopefully, it conjures up memories of holidays spent at home with loved ones.
Former Outkast rapper Andre 3000 aka Andre Benjamin has made headlines recently for dropping his microphone and picking up a flute. His debut solo album, “New Blue Sun,” is filled with stretched out instrumentals more suitable to a zenned-out spa than a jam packed stadium of hip-hop fans hanging on his every word. With his unexpected switch being such a hot topic, I wanted to take the opportunity to dive back into Andre’s body of work and pick out a song that reminds us of his remarkable pre-flute talents. The Anderson Paak track “Come Home”, from his album “Ventura,” features one of the best Andre 3000’s guest appearances ever. Repairing love and family is the theme as Paak opens the song with sweet and soulful singing, pleading to be “let loose” from a damaging relationship. Near the end of the song Andre 3000 comes in with a broken flow matching the complexities of a strained partnership and begs for the return of his friend to the place they call home.
One of the greatest creative runs in popular music history began with Stevie Wonder’s 1972 album “Music of My Mind,” and culminated in his 1976 magnum opus, “Songs in the Key of Life.” The record features numerous hits and at the time set Wonder apart from his contemporaries as a force to be reckoned with. Album highlight “As” is a heart-wrenching proclamation of undying love with lyrics that are considered to be a metaphor for Stevie’s own relationship with music and his career. With Wonder’s good friend and fellow musical genius Herbie Hancock contributing Fender Rhodes piano on the seven-minute epic, it’s the perfect song to fill up a home with warmth and soul.
Featured in 1983 on the Talking Heads’ studio album “Speaking in Tongues,” “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” is one of the most emotionally honest and endearing love songs ever written. After not performing together for years, the band has popped back into modern consciousness with public appearances celebrating the 40th anniversary of their landmark concert film “Stop Making Sense.” The song appears in the film when a lone floor lamp is switched on as three large video panels project images of bookshelves, reminiscent of a happy home. Led by a flute-like synth, various keyboards start to intertwine as the lanky and sweat-drenched David Byrne stands awkwardly onstage, ready to sing from deep down in his heart. Celebrating the blissful confusion that love creates, the phrase “Naive Melody” was a reference to the simplicity of the demo track featuring band members playing instruments that were not their primary talent. With lyrics like “Home is where I want to be,” and “Did I find you or you find me?” Talking Heads created an almost perfect song that encapsulates the sweet messiness of pure love.
What began as a homemade demo recorded by John Lennon in late 1979, “Now and Then” is the final song written by The Beatles. Each member of the group contributed to the song at some point during their life with elements of the track recorded over the span of several decades. Years after Lennon was fatally shot, Yoko Ono stumbled upon the demo tape, which she passed on to Paul McCartney who quickly assembled Ringo Starr and George Harrison to try and flesh out something useful. Following numerous sessions with producer Jeff Lynne in the mid-90s, the song was ultimately scrapped. Fast forward to 2022 and the advancement of technology available, the song was again revisited by Starr and McCartney who were better able to extract the vocal parts from Lennon’s recording and clean up the overall production using AI technology. Utilizing tracks from Lennon’s demo, Harrison’s guitar takes from the 1995 sessions, and new drum and bass tracks laid down by Ringo and Paul, “Now and Then” is a surprise gift this holiday season to everyone yearning for a classic taste of their beloved Beatles.