Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to spend with family and friends, enjoy each other, and be grateful for the good things in life. But it doesn’t usually get as much love as the other two holidays it’s “sandwiched” between, Christmas and Halloween. This is especially true about music. There are many, many songs dedicated to Christmas that have become classically infused with the tradition’s spirit—some tunes just make you feel it’s Christmas. That doesn’t happen with Thanksgiving, which really is too bad, because family dinner is a perfect time to bring out a fitting playlist.
But don’t worry, there are always options. Even though songs specific to Thanksgiving are rare, there are many lyrics that refer to the topics this holiday is all about—gratitude, family, friends and, especially, food. With that in mind, here’s a bunch of thank-you songs and other Thanksgiving-related tunes for you to rock your dinner-party playlist!
“A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” by Vince Guaraldi Trio
What better way to kick off your Thanksgiving than by listening to the jazz theme-song of Peanuts’ beloved Thanksgiving special!
“I Thank You” by Sam & Dave
This lovely, upbeat tune from 1968 will make you want to stand up and dance around the table. You know it’s a good song when that happens.
“Give Thanks and Praises” by Bob Marley
Bob Marley is such a master at creating relaxed and comfortable atmospheres that even if his songs had nothing to do with Thanksgiving, we’d recommend him. It’s great, then, that this song is so thematically-suitable for your dinner playlist on this occasion.
“Thank You Friends” by Big Star
The title says it all. This is a great song to hear with your best buds and gals—and even with family, as long as you’re willing to admit there’s also at least some friendship there.
“Macy’s Day Parade” by Green Day
It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without Macy’s famous Thanksgiving Day Parade. So, it’s only appropriate that you complement the celebration with a song with that very event in its title.
“Be Thankful For What You Got” by Love
With a good piece of advice found in their 1974 album, Reel-To-Real, Love provides a great ambient song to play in the background while sharing those family Thanksgiving stories.
“Harvest Moon” by Neil Young
Another really relaxed tune, this time from the great Neil Young, whose aptly-titled song reminds us of the deep connection between Thanksgiving, harvest, and odes to the moon. And even though it’s actually a love song, the topics are relevant nonetheless.
“Thanksgiving Day” by Ray Davies
Hard to find a better song for Thanksgiving. This one is among the few that actually celebrate the holiday directly.
“Gratitude” by Earth, Wind & Fire
Well, it’s all about gratitude, isn’t it? Show it with this song in the background, and you’re golden for the celebration.
“Almost Thanksgiving Day” by Graham Parker
A nice country song from the lead singer of Graham Parker & The Rumor that superbly complements any Thanksgiving dinner playlist.
“Young Pilgrims” by The Shins
In ways both subtle and clear, this song fits the mood and the holiday perfectly. Remember the pilgrims!
“Thanksgiving Prayer” by Johnny Cash
The masterful Johnny Cash delights us with his unparalleled deep voice in this musical prayer you’re sure to appreciate during Thanksgiving.
“Thank You” by Descendents
This one’s more on the rock side of the musical spectrum, so you might want to avoid it while your grandma is around. It’s a perfectly suitable thank-you song to listen to with your friends, though.
“Sweet Potato Pie” by Ray Charles
Pies and Ray Charles? You couldn’t find a better combination for Thanksgiving, if all the turkeys joined around the dinner table and sang praises to the moon and harvest. This one’s a must for any Thanksgiving playlist: upbeat, uplifting, and outright classically fun.
“Do the Mashed Potatoes” by James Brown
Feel like dancing to rhythm and blues? This two-part 1960s instrumental by James Brown will have you shining the floor, whether you want to or not.
“The Thanksgiving Filter” by Drive-By Truckers
A very amiable song dedicated to the whole family experience surrounding Thanksgiving that captures the holiday’s spirit like few other songs ever have.
“Thanksgiving Song” by Mary Chapin Carpenter
A beautiful and solemn song by country singer Mary Chapin Carpenter, this one is perfect for that heartfelt moment that should always accompany the honest act of giving thanks authentically.
“Autumn in New York” by Billie Holiday
Another blast from the past, this 1934 jazz classic won’t fail to transport you to a wonderful autumn scene.
“The Thanksgiving Song” by Adam Sandler
If humor is more your thing, this one can be a blast. It may not be the most well-sung and best written song in history, but hey, who’s looking for that anyway? At least, it’s about Thanksgiving.
“The Turkey Song” by Bryant Oden
Speaking of humor, here’s one that could become a Thanksgiving classic. Let’s all take a moment to think that turkeys actually don’t have a good time during this holiday, so do consider alternative menus.
There you go. Choose your favorites, and have a great time celebrating this beautiful tradition. Oh, and don’t forget to tune in to watch the parade.
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