Amidst all the preparation stress and hassle around producing this massive holiday feast, it’s easy to gloss over the best part of Thanksgiving–that you actually enjoy spending quality time with all your kooky, nudgesome, and most lovable family and friends. To help get you and your gang into the right mood, here’s Ideasmyth’s inaugural playlist blog–whoot! whoot!–of songs sure to put the “thanks” back in your “Thanksgiving.” We mixed in a few fresh under-known indie crooners in the mix too, all tunes guaranteed to fire up gratitude in even for the most festivity-fried.
1. Sister Sledge–We Are Family
If your Thanksgiving’s anything like mine, it’s a day you spend getting closer to your family–close enough that your cousin has to climb out the window just to get around to the kitchen for seconds. What better way to celebrate that new-found closeness than to say it loud and proud–“We Are Family”? This upbeat anthem of of Sister Sledge is sure to turn your Thanksgiving dinner into a dance-on-that-table celebration of shared genes.
2. Meiko–How Lucky We Are
For those of you spending your Thanksgiving with a smaller crowd (ie. with the dog, with the partner, with the feverish and grumpy three-year-old) and feeling a little bummed (or modestly excited) that you can’t make it to the giant family or friend get-together, Meiko offers you a giant “I feel you.” In a song as unassuming and simple as its message, the singer-songwriter whose self-titled album ran the circuit through major-network TV shows reminds us to be thankful for the little everyday pleasures.
3. Cream–I’m So Glad
And we are too. We’re glad for turkey. For green bean casserole. For sons and daughters, nieces and nephews volunteering to set the table while you sit down for the first time in ten hours. For trains that stop when the door is right in front of you. Whatever you’re feeling glad about this holiday, Cream is here to channel that thankfulness into the kind of soulful classic rock that will have even your grumpy Uncle Steve tapping his foot.
4. Alanis Morrisette–Thank U
In this 1998 classic, Alanis Morrisette’s lyrics celebrate her unconventional take on gratitude, citing the kind of life negatives (terror! frailty! silence! disillusionment!) for all the million little (and paradoxically rather huge) positive life lessons they can deliver (“The moment I let go of it was the moment / I got more than I could handle.”
5. Natalie Merchant–Kind and Generous
Natalie Merchant’s nuanced voice celebrates humanity’s best qualities. Whether you’re feeling thank you for your aunt’s excruciatingly delicious apple pie or for the nine Facebook likes you got on your awkward attempt to make a Thanksgiving graphic on Microsoft Paint, singing along to this song is the perfect way to serenade appreciation.
6. Rod Stewart–Thanks for the Memory
Rod Stewart’s craggy take on this witty and bittersweet romantic standard has just the right amount of schmaltz have you looking at your partner, favorite cousin, or cat with puppy-dog eyes.
7. Dido–Thank You
Dido reminds us that when someone loves us even the tiniest acts of kindness–“ I’m soaking through and
through / then you handed me a towel and all I see is you / and even if my house falls down now, I wouldn’t have a clue / because you’re near me…”can salvage the most terrible, horrible no-good very bad days.
8. Ani DiFranco–Gratitude
Folksy feminist Ani DiFranco’s tremulous voice contrasts compellingly with her hard-hitting lyrics to remind you when it’s right to draw the line on gratitude. Yes, be thankful for the big things (“the bus fare”), the small things (“for taking me around”), the kind things (“letting me stay here”), the yummy things (“the beer and the food”)–but don’t compromise your dignity with a misplaced sense of obligation. Let’s keep Thanksgiving as much as possible about giving without expecting anything in return. DiFranco makes it clear that those who give to us with strings attached to things we don’t want to give them are the worst “little white lying” turkeys.
9. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young–Our House
“Our House,” by famous folk harmonizers Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young always evokes the best warm feelings of hearth and home that the best Thanksgiving dinners create when you “light the fire…and everything is good…and now everything is easy because of you”–which is enough to make it Thanksgiving-y in my book.
10. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole–Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole took two ’40s movie musical classics, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and “What a Wonderful World,” and wove them into his own Hawaiian ukulele classic. Kamakawiwo’ole’s sunny lullaby mashup will put a smile on your face and make you feel grateful for the most simple of all human experiences–the experience of existing in a world alongside such wonderful things as “The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky / Are also on the faces of people passing by / I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do / But what they’re really saying is I love you.”
~~Kim Kaletsky is Ideasmyth’s editorial and tech assistant, and a senior at NYU studying English and American literature, creative writing, and web programming. When she is not busy running her lit mag blog, Brouhaha Magazine, she moonlights as a music fanatic and boasts a music collection of nearly 12,000 songs–and a mental repertoire that is twice as large.