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KCMO in Pop Culture Playlist

by Darah Fogarty, Marketing Coordinator, AASLH on

This is the fourth post in a week-long series spotlighting Kansas City and Annual Meeting topics leading up to the announcement of the #AASLH18 speakers on Friday.

Read Monday’s post, “Welcome to Speaker Week: Inspiration from Past Annual Meeting Speakers.”

Kansas City has been immortalized in many songs over the years, produced countless musicians, and played a crucial role in the development of ragtime, jazz, and blues.  In this list, we just begin to scratch the surface of the musical catalogue associated with the “Paris of the Plains”. Stay tuned for more Kansas City playlists in the coming months.

Happy listening!

  1. Kansas City Blues – Recorded in 1927 by blues musician Jim Jackson, this song has been recorded, re-worked, and referenced by by numerous musicians throughout the years, including Charlie Patton, Bill Haley, Hank Williams, and Janis Joplin.
  2. Kansas City – Made famous by Wilbert Harrison, “Kansas City” was written in 1952  by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, two nineteen-year-old rhythm and blues fans from Los Angeles, who had never been to the titular city.  The song has received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award and is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.”  It’s also the city’s official song.
  3. Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey Hey! – One of the many variations on Leiber and Stoller’s “Kansas City,” Little Richard rewrote some lyrics and released the song as a medley. Other notable renditions include the Beatles version in 1964.
  4. Train from Kansas City – A 1965 single from the Shangri-Las tells the story of an ex-lover arriving from Kansas City, only to have his heart broken upon arrival at the station, where the singer is waiting to tell him of her new engagement.
  5. The Eternal Kansas City – “Excuse me, do you know the way to Kansas City?” Van Morrison’s love letter to Kansas City is filled with references to the city’s greats: “Dig your Charlie Parker, Basie and Young, Witherspoon and Jay McShann.”

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