Thanksgiving is a traditional American holiday when we celebrate the bonds of family and friendship. It has been celebrated on and off since the 18th century, but in all that time there have been precious few songs composed for the season. This year, as Christmas music has hit the airwaves a little too early for our taste, we thought we’d offer a few songs that might better suit a reunion of families.
Here we have four songs that would be excellent as tunes to travel to, or to just have on in the background during Thanksgiving dinner. While they may not all be explicitly geared towards this particular holiday, they acknowledge the little things that make life good and express gratitude for them.
Matt Maher – “Lead Me Home”
Back in 2003, Matt Maher may not have had the name recognition he enjoyes now, but his songwriting was just as good as it is today. Here, we have a song from his album Welcome to Life that is just brimming with Thanksgiving sentiment. Maher spends his verses thanking God for everything in life, from the good to the bad, in a sweetly sung song that reminds us that even if we are struggling, it is worth being thankful just for being alive.
Bing Crosby – “I’ve Got Plenty to be Thankful For”
Let’s start it off with this fun, swinging tune from 1942. Bing Crosby, one of the most prominent singers of the era, gives an excellent performance with his signature baritone. The song follows a similar progression as “I’ve Got Plenty of Nothing” from the hit broadway show, Porgy and Bess. Crosby lists off the things he has, which isn’t all that much, but it’s still enough for him to happily give thanks.
John Denver – “Thank God I’m a Country Boy”
One of John Denver’s 11 songs to reach #1, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” is at its heart a song of thanks. The song names the things that Denver is thankful for. These include his wife and children, his farm, his fiddle, and the fact that he can play it. The song is fast-paced and meant to be fun, perfect for a car ride to your Thanksgiving venue.
Johnny Cash – “Thanksgiving Prayer”
When it comes time for Thanksgiving dinner, this excellent prayer by Johnny Cash would make the perfect start. Like the others on this list, Cash extols the little things in life that he counts among his blessings. These include the laughter of children, sunshine, rain, the color blue, and of course “you,” a reference to June Carter.
Mary Chapin Carpenter – “Thanksgiving Song”
This lovely diddy from Mary Chapin Carpenter would be so perfect for after-dinner listening. The slow-paced ballad sets the tone for a family gathering that is winding down for the evening. The only worry here is that the gentle melody may send the family into a turkey-induced slumber.
Sam Spence – “Round Up”
This one is for the families who turn on the football game after dinner. This is one of the most famous songs from NFL highlight reels. The fanfare can make some of the most important moments of a football game gloriously intense. It’s also a great soundtrack for when a family member jumps into that story they’ve told a million times at every family gathering. Next time they start, put on “Round Up” and watch as the story transforms from a tired over-told tale into an epic legend on par with the fall of Troy.