Top 20 Thanksgiving Songs

Top 20 Thanksgiving Songs


With the holiday season blowing into town like a blizzard, many of us turn up the heat and turn on our stereos to enjoy the musical writings that make us reminisce of years gone by. I was sitting here, thinking to myself, certain holidays have certain moods and clearly favorite soundtracks. What do you think of when you hear the “Monster Mash”? Halloween of course. “Jingle Bells”? Christmas. But what songs grace the playlists of today’s get-together, Thanksgiving?

Thinking about that, I drew a lot of blanks. It seems like most people generally start playing “holiday” music after Halloween (and sometimes before), but most of that music gets played straight on through to Christmas. So I sought out to make a good list of songs that would make a great playlist for this day, where we sit around and gorge ourselves on food to the point where we can do nothing but sit around and groove to some good tunes.

1. Johnny Cash – Thanksgiving Prayer

2. Mary Chapin Carpenter – Thanksgiving Song

3. Lydia Maria Child – Over the River and Through the Woods

  • An interesting side-note on this song in particular – “Over the River and Through the Woods” was originally penned in 1844 to be a Thanksgiving poem, entitled “A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day”. It wasn’t until years later that some of the lyrics were changed to make it into more of a Christmas song.

4. Sister Sledge – We Are Family

5. Natalie Merchant – Kind and Generous

6. Dido – Thank You

7. Ella Fitzgerald – Thanks for the Memory

8. Otis Redding – I Want to Thank You

9. Johnny Lang – Thankful

  • Johnny Lang’s first CD was given to me as a gift for Christmas years ago. It has always made great holiday music. This track happens to be off his 5th studio release, and I feel it is more appropriate for Thanksgiving time.
  • Man, I used to think I didnt have a lot
    Now I realize just how much Ive got
    Now every day Im gonna take the time and stop to be
  • Thankful, thankful
    Ive gotta take the time to say, that Im
    Thankful, thankful
    For every single breath that I take
    Ive gotta be thankful, thankful

10. Motley Crue – Home Sweet Home

  • I thought this song was fitting because of the lyrics themselves. Often times after we become adults, we strike out on our own. But this is the time of year that we all return back home, to be with our friends and family, and think fondly of old memories.
  • You know I’m a dreamer
    But my heart’s of gold
    I had to run away high
    So I wouldn’t come home low
    Just when things went right
    It doesn’t mean they were always wrong
    Just take this song, and you’ll never feel
    Left all aloneTake me to your heart
    Feel me in your bones
    Just one more night
    And I’m comin’ off this
    Long & winding road

11. Bob Marley – Give Thanks and Praises

12. Madness – Our House

  • The vibe of this song makes me think about all of my family gatherings. Tired parents, kids running amok, everyone is together in the house but in the end we all go running off, back to our old lives.
  • I remember way back then when everything was true and when
    We would have such a very good time such a fine time
    Such a happy time
    And I remember how we’d play simply waste the day away
    Then we’d say nothing would come between us two dreamersFather wears his Sunday best
    Mother’s tired she needs a rest
    The kids are playing up downstairs
    Sister’s sighing in her sleep
    Brother’s got a date to keep
    He can’t hang around

13. Descendents – Thank You

  • While this song may not truly be about Thanksgiving itself, it is a grateful song and it wholeheartedly represents what I am thankful for – the ability to listen to great music, see amazing bands, and the memories that I have that would never be the same without that.

14. Paul McCartney – Gratitude

15. Alanis Morissette – Thank You

16. Jay and the Techniques – Apple, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie

  • C’mon. With a song title like that, and being a classic jam from the 60s, this just had to make the list!

17. Natalie Cole – Be Thankful

18. Simon and Garfunkel – Homeward Bound

  • I’m sittin’ in the railway station
    Got a ticket for my destination
    On a tour of one night stands
    My suitcase and guitar in hand
    And every stop is neatly planned
    For a poet and a one man bandHomeward bound
    I wish I was
    Homeward bound
    Home, where my thought’s escaping
    Home, where my music’s playing
    Home, where my love lies waiting

19. Ray Charles – Sweet Potato Pie

20. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

  • The Charlie Brown Holiday Specials are timeless pieces of artwork that defy any time period. Though this cartoon was released in 1973, I’m certain that children today are still enjoying. According to TV Guide, it will be playing on ABC this year! The wonderful fusion between iconic characters set to amazingly composed music by Vince Guaraldi makes this a must-have and a must-see for everyone!

So after thinking as hard as I could, those were the twenty best (in no particular order) songs that I could find for Thanksgiving. That being said, and since you made it to the bottom of the list, I have two bonuses for the grand finale!

A Thanksgiving Tribute to the William Tell Overture:

And my personal favorite, Turkey Dubstep:

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