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10 Thank You Songs for Thanksgiving — And Just One’s a Turkey!

Ted Drozdowski

Thanksgiving isn’t about turkey and stuffing. It’s about gratitude. So let’s celebrate that this year, and with apologies to Plymouth Rock, here are 10 songs about thankfulness that really rock:

• “I Thank You,” ZZ Top: Sure, Sam & Dave cut this one written by David Porter and Isaac Hayes first, in 1968, but 11 years later ZZ Top put the heavy grind on this number for their album Degüello. Listen to Miss Pearly Gates testify!

• “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin,”) Sly & the Family Stone: This durable song is about remaining open in the face of great challenges, with lyrics carved from the racial tensions of 1969 America. It’s heavy thematically, but it’s also musically buoyant enough to sneak by on a Thanksgiving dinner mix tape without raising eyebrows. Try it.

• “Thanks a Lot,” Ernest Tubb: With cool six-string licks from Nashville A-Team legend Grady Martin, this song’s a cynical kiss-off to the lady who broke Ernie’s heart. Sure, it’s stone country, but the attitude is punk rock all the way.

• “Give Thanks and Praises,” Bob Marley: Gibson player Marley wasn’t much on irony, but his honestly and gift of expression were bottomless. This song is purely one of spiritual praise, moving with its frankness and unfrilled melody.

• “Thank You,” Led Zeppelin: Another delightfully unironic entry is Robert Plant’s ode to eternal love on Led Zeppelin II, with its acoustic bedrock and John Paul Jones’ buoyant organ. And while there’s no blazing guitar solo, the song does feature an exceptional acoustic guitar rhythm performance from Jimmy Page, once again displaying his wholeness as a player.

• “Thank You For Sending Me an Angel,” Talking Heads: Uh-oh! Irony again. This song’s an exercise is self-worship, sung by David Byrne with his early, post-punk trademark grin. Sometimes it’s just healthy to dig who you are, but not in this case.

• “What a Wonderful World,” Louis Armstrong: This 1967 recording by one of the world’s greatest musicians is a perfect fit with his sunny personality and world view, although it was penned by pro songwriters Bob Thiele And George David Weiss. It takes a hard day, indeed, to keep this song from working its magic.

• “I’m So Glad,” Cream: Country blues giant Skip James recorded this tune in 1931, but Cream burned it into the pop consciousness in 1966 with their rumbling take. The song’s about finding release from sadness, which is certainly reason for gratitude.

• “Thank You Friends,” Big Star: Another literal gem, about giving praise to pals for the good things they bring in life. Described as a “baroque pop” classic in Rolling Stone, this number from the 1978-released Third/Sister Lovers is a durable, psychedelic slice of Memphis pop history that foreshadows bands like the Replacements and Lucero. Dig the hip slide, too.

• “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” John Denver: Just kidding.

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