Some holidays, like Christmas or Halloween, have great music and soundtracks to get you in the holiday mood. Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays that is an exception. Not a lot of songs easily come to mind when one thinks about “Thanksgiving music.”
I decided to change that a bit today, and I am going to give my top 10 list of multi-genre Thanksgiving music that has everything to do with food, thankfulness, and cool fall vibes.
10. “Stuffy Turkey” by Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk, a jazz pianist, comes in at No. 10 with one of the few jazz songs about Thanksgiving. It’s a beautiful piece of swing with a perfect piano solo that plays into the track’s mellow vibes.
9. “(Do The) Mashed Potatoes” by James Brown
This song always makes me laugh because it has no right being such a classic rhythm and blues song. It’s got a nice little guitar riff, explosive saxophone and a shouting man telling you to “Do the mashed potatoes,” which is based on a dance from the late 1950s when the song was recorded.
8. “Thanksgiving Theme” by Vince Guaraldi Trio (Peanuts Soundtrack)
Who doesn’t love the classic cartoon, “Peanuts?” The piano in this song is perfectly nostalgic and brings anyone who grew up watching this cartoon back to the magic youthfulness of childhood Thanksgiving.
7. “Gratitude” by Earth, Wind & Fire
Any Earth, Wind & Fire song is going to immediately be good, but this song specifically has a punchy bass that brings a little funk to your fall holidays. The song’s lyrics are all about having gratitude and being thankful for the finer things in life, which is a perfect message for Thanksgiving!
6. “Right Back Where We Started From” by Maxine Nightingale
This song just feels like pure happiness to me, and the urge to get up and dance is irresistible anytime it comes on. While not directly Thanksgiving related, the lyrics, “We gotta get right back to where we started from. Love is good, love can be strong,” get me prepared to go back where I’m from and see the whole family for Thanksgiving.
5. “Autumn in New York” by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
This song was originally composed in 1934 by Vernon Duke, but the duet by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong is a perfect breath of cool fall air into the Thanksgiving holiday. Fitzgerald’s soft, angelic voice has a perfect contrast with Armstrong’s rich, rough voice that is backed with a beautiful piano.
4. “Be Thankful” by Natalie Cole
Natalie Cole brings a funky, soul filled R&B track to the No. 4 spot. The lyrics remind everyone to be thankful for all in their life delivered with Cole’s rich, soulful voice.
3. “Ode To My Family” by The Cranberries
This slower, reflective song by The Cranberries always reminds me of the past. In a holiday that’s all about getting together with family and being thankful for everything, I am reminded of the important role family plays in building up their children and all the pleasant memories of past holiday seasons.
2. “Be Thankful For What You’ve Got” by Massive Attack
This is English trip hop band Massive Attack’s cover of William DeVaughn’s classic soul track. This is entirely arbitrary personal preference, but Massive Attack’s version connected closer with me due to their smooth voice and atmospheric sound. The lyrics remind the listener to stand tall and be thankful for what they’ve got, even if it’s not perfect.
1. “Cooking Up Something Good” by Mac DeMarco
Finally, Mac DeMarco takes the No. 1 spot for me! It’s a perfect, laid back indie track that feels like an average Thanksgiving day as you watch your parents prepare the food and life seems to slow down, even if it’s just for a moment.