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RFT Counts Down 12 Days Of St. Louis Christmas Songs

Chuck Berry
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | file photo
Chuck Berry performs at a free concert at Kiener Plaza in July. The rock-and-roll legend is on the mend after collapsing on stage in Chicago on Saturday.

After creating a list of 100 essential songs about St. Louis, Riverfront Times senior music writers Christian Schaeffer and Roy Kasten are working their way through the top 12 holiday songs by St.Louisians.

Toward the top of Schaeffer's list is a little-known Chuck Berry song, "Spending Christmas." Recorded around 1965, Schaeffer told "Cityscape" host Steve Potter that the song was not released at the time but has since been included as part of anthologies. 

"I think of it as Chuck Berry's 'I'll Be Home for Christmas,'" Schaeffer said. "It's kind of that nostalgic sentiment. He's far away from home, far away from loved ones. And all of the things he mentions missing about spending Christmas at home, just kind of a sweet sentiment and just a little bit of a different Chuck Berry than we're used to."

Nostalgia is the thread that connects holiday songs and speaks to many people, Schaeffer said.

"I think for people who are adults, I think we think of Christmas as kind of a kids' holiday in some ways. But when adults get their hand at singing Christmas songs, I think there's a recurring theme of going back to the way they were when things were a little more simple."

For Schaeffer, that's the draw of "Just Because it Was Christmas" by Rough Shop, a St. Louis folk/Americana group. The group recently released its second Christmas album, "Lit Up Like a Christmas Tree."

"Just Because it Was Christmas" by Rough Shop

"There's this kind of jangle to it, like an old Byrd's song, but really I like that song so much for its sentiment and that idea of memory and that nostalgic pull that Christmas has for a lot of us," Schaeffer said.

That's the same reason "Fields of Snow," by Cassie Morgan with Beth Bombara, stood out for Schaeffer, too. 

"Cassie is from Bonnie, Illinois, not too far from here, and she uses the song to talk a little bit about growing up there and this idea of Christmas in her hometown," he said.

The Riverfront Times holiday jams countdown ends on Christmas Eve.

“Cityscape” is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and sponsored in part by the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis.