[Can you believe it's nearly Thanksgiving? Though I'd love to troll the new CDs I bought this year for new Thanksgiving songs, the honest truth is that I don't have time. Plus, I like what I said two years ago here and the playlist I included then just fine. Finding Thanksgiving songs is not that easy, you know! My children say I just look for the saddest songs I can find and include them, but what do they know? Deep under melancholy is something like joy, not happiness. But maybe you have to live a while to understand that. So, enjoy these sadfully joyful songs, and, above all, be thankful. I have some ideas beyond turkey and football for how to celebrate this woefully brief interlude in the retail Christmas season, but check back for that by the weekend. For now, just listen.]
These songs don't all have Thanksgiving as a theme, because what I treasure about the day is also the gathering at home, or maybe the longing for home, or (sadly) in some cases the trials of being home. Like every holiday, its mention also brings a certain remembrance of childhood celebrations of the day. So, that too is reflected in some of my choices. In the end, it is a subjective list, of course, and yet I hope you will enjoy the music and reflect on what light it sheds on this Thanksgiving Day.
I've recorded and posted below two MP3 files, each with eight or nine songs. You can stream these but, better yet, I suggest right-clicking on each one (where it says "Side One" and "Side Two") and saving it to your desktop. Each will take a couple minutes to download. Once you have done that, you can then click on the desktop icon and listen to the songs on your player. Enjoy!
1. In the Bounty of the Lord, by Claire Holly. A gospel bluegrass number that celebrates what God gives us. The style is reminiscent of music I listened to growing up, as I find it reminds me of those Friday nights when my father's friends would come over and play music and drink black coffee until after midnight.
2. Thanksgiving Day, by Ray Davies. Kinks front-man Davies can claim the only legitimate song about Thanksgiving! He eschews his usual sardonic wit and writes a warm tune here, and the most rocking thing you'll hear on this playlist.
3. Thank You, by Jan Krist. It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without saying "thank you," and Jan manages to lace the thanks with enough melancholy and angst to keep it real. She's a good friend, and hearing her music brings many memories.
4. Gratitude, by Peter Himmelman. "I'm glad that I can see the brown eyes of my daughter. . . . Forgive me if I lost a sense of gratitude." Himmelman, an orthodox Jew, knows Who to thank. His song is a confession of how we take things for granted and forget to be thankful to our Creator.
5. Be Thou My Vision, by Van Morrison. It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without a hymn, and this is likely my favorite, with a very Celtic delivery by Van.
6. Covert War, by David Wilcox. Wow. If you had a family like this, you wouldn't want to go home for Thanksgiving. Fireworks at the Thanksgiving meal! Sad, but real.
7. Come Thou Fount/ Grain By Grain, by Matt Auten. Gorgeous hymn, and a reminder that God is the fount of every blessing.
8. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, by George Winston. Watching Charlie Brown is a part of every holiday. Besides, it's a bit of a pick-me-up.
9. Wanderer's Song, by Brooks Williams. One of my favorites by Brooks, this song is about how all roads lead home.
10. River Where Mercy Flows, by Julie Miller. I love Julie's songs, and the tenderness and fragility of her voice is disarming. Thank God for His mercy.
11. What Wondrous Love, by Jars of Clay. Another hymn favorite. Thank God for his wondrous love.
12. Thanksgiving Song, by Mary Chapin Carpenter. New to the playlist this year, this original song is from Carpenter's recently released Christmas album. "Grateful for each hand we hold, around this table. . . ."
13. America, by Simon and Garfunkel. As my Uganda friend reminds me, Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, and this is a song about America, and a nostalgic reminder of another time. This is the unique place I'm thankful for.
14. Somewhere Over the Rainbow, by The Innocence Mission. It seems like The Wizard of Oz used to come on sometime around the holidays every year as I was growing up. Thus, I identify it with home. It has a lullaby quality to it also, as sung by Karen Peris.
15. The Water is Wide, by Karla Bonoff. What a great song! This traditional tune was arranged and sung by Bonoff with some guitar and vocals by James Taylor late in the song. It's a song about trying to get home.
16. We Will Dance Someday, by Brooks Williams. A great upbeat song of hope about the Home we will enjoy someday. That hope makes me thankful.
17. Homecoming, by Jerry Reed Smith. An instrumental coda which reminds us, I think, of where our real Home is, where it will be Thanksgiving all the time.