Maybe because we’re still reeling from the Great Recession, it seems that Christmas for many retailers started in early October. I was seeing Christmas/Holiday decorations at some stores in late September, and even before Halloween, there was a push to get an “early start” on holiday shopping. It’s all very sad in a way because such a single-minded focus on the commercial side of Christmas makes one of my favorite holidays something to “get out of the way” so we can all get down to the business at hand: shopping. And because Thanksgiving is centered on a big meal, it’s tough to get people to buy anything more than what they are contributing to dinner. There are no Thanksgiving gifts, no Thanksgiving tree, no Thanksgiving communal events (in a religious sense), and just to top it off, there are a paucity of Thanksgiving songs. But that’s not stopping me from putting together a mix to celebrate my favorite time of the year.
“Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin),” Sly & the Family Stone (Download)
One of Sly’s most funky grooves has some pretty dark lyrics that may make one wonder what this song has to do with Thanksgiving. Well, in the big bad world where The Man is trying to gun you down, one can always find a safe haven with “everyday people” where you can be yourself. So just look at your family and friends as a shelter from the storm – and be thankful for them.
“Give Thanks & Praises, Bob Marley and the Wailers (Download)
Well, I suppose if you’re having a Rastafarian Thanksgiving, you might want to start with this prayer before you ask some one to pass the grass, um, I’m mean greens. But in all seriousness, this lyric by Marley is quite an inspiring affirmation of life:
If Jah didn’t love I (love I)
If I didn’t love I
Would I be around today?
“Thank You,” Led Zeppelin (Download)
Living in California, many of us who live near the coast have a fear that one day when The Big One happens… you know, an earthquake, that cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles will be underwater. So when I hear Robert Plant sing, “If the mountains should crumble to the sea, there would still be you and me,” it’s clear he wasn’t “Going to California” when he wrote this. Still, it’s a very moving song to his wife from a band whose sensitive side surfaced only from time to time.
“Strawberry Jam,” Michelle Shocked (Download)
There was a time when I bought everything Michelle Shocked released, but the inevitable happened: I fell out of love because she recorded this. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like her early to middle work, and “Strawberry Jam” fits the Thanksgiving theme quite nicely. Because really, what’s this holiday about if not cooking with friends and family.
“Home Cookin’,” The Band (Download)
Speaking of home cooking… Did you see what I did there? That, my friends, is what you call a completely obvious seagueway meant to showcase my flat-footed comic sensibilities. But in keeping with the cooking theme that’s an integral part of this mix, I give you the Band’s song about what else? Yep, longing for some home cooking, family, and friends.
“Sweet Potato,” Cracker (Download)
Not quite a testament to my favorite side dish on Thanksgiving, but it’ll have to do as we wind down this Thanksgiving mix. Now, I really like candied yams (which in our neck of the woods is really candied sweet potatoes), and my wife makes a really great recipe — which you can see HERE — so this song by Cracker had me with the title. And even though the song is not about sweet potatoes, it still makes me think a little bit about why candied sweet potatoes is such a favorite: bourbon. Sure, the alcohol is cooked off, but the flavor is still there making it a treat that’s not too sweet.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving to all my U.S. readers. And if you’re Canadian, a happy belated Thanksgiving to you — since, you know, you celebrated in early October. And for the rest of our Popdose faithful readers, perhaps you could join us Yanks in some turkey, a favorite drink, and a slice of pumpkin pie on this day when the most important thing is to reflect on what you’re thankful for.