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Top 10 Thanksgiving “thankful” track list

Thanksgiving is a time of great food, fun, and… sales. But lest we forget, music can also be an effective reminder of what matters most.

Woman listening to music in autumn

As we embark on the holiday season, let us remember how fortunate we are to be able to sit back and appreciate life’s littlest — or grandest — luxuries. Remember way back when flip phones were “in” and when touch-screen phones appeared on the market, only the “elite” had them? Now, flip phones are almost obsolete, and iPhones, iPods and iPads are no longer iFads.

This Thursday, as you sit down to feast (and perhaps later regret the several pies you ate — or maybe that’s just me) and enjoy the festivities with your loved ones, take a gander at our track list of songs to be thankful for. Rather than ranking based on catchiness and blaring beats, we decided to try to find songs (some conventional, others not) that lyrically show us how much we have to be grateful for.

Check it out and feel free to let us know what other ones you would recommend!


City High — What Would You Do (2001)

City High - What Would You Do (2001)Most significant lyrics:

“What would you do if your son was at home
Cryin’ all alone on the bedroom floor?
Cuz he’s hungry, and the only way to feed him
Is to sleep with a man”

What it makes you thankful for: 

Poverty is a difficult and unfortunate circumstance for anyone, but trying to support a family is an even more arduous one. Many people find themselves in prostitution, or if not that, other unsafe means to provide for a family. When this song was released I remember how shaken everyone was by its message. We all should do what we can to help each other, but at the very least be thankful for our own familial support. We all know someone in our lives who has made sacrifices to ensure our well-being.


Dido — Thank You (1999)

Dido - Thank You (1999)Most significant lyrics:

“And even if I’m there, they’ll all imply
That I might not last the day
And then you call me and it’s not so bad”

What it makes you thankful for:

Even though this touches on the importance of having a loved one in your life, I think there is another lesson present in this song. The world can crumble, and people can surround you with negativity, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Try to remain thankful that somewhere, even if you can’t always see or talk to them, someone loves you, and there is calm after life’s storms.


Eric Clapton — My Father’s Eyes (1998)

Eric Clapton - My Father's Eyes (1998)Most significant lyrics:

“Where do I find the words to say? How do I teach him?
What do we play? Bit by bit, I’ve realized
That’s when I need them,
That’s when I need my father’s eyes.”

What it makes you thankful for: 

Whether you’re a parent or not, we all reach a milestone in life where we rely on the wisdom passed down from either our parents or those who fulfilled their roles. Take this time to think upon the lessons and knowledge they’ve passed on to you and be grateful for their presence, as many may not have had the opportunity for knowledge and guidance as you did.


Beastie Boys — Gratitude (1992)

Beastie Boys - Gratitude (1992)Most significant lyrics:

“Good times gone, but you feed it
Hate’s grown strong, you feel you need it
Just one thing, do you know you
What you think, that the world owes you?”

What it makes you thankful for:

The song is called “Gratitude” for a reason: To be thankful for experience and to let go of the control we all can exert on circumstances. Rather than complain, try to find things about yourself or your life that have worked out, as opposed to dwelling on the situations that haven’t.


Christina Aguilera — Beautiful (2003)

Christina Aguilera - Beautiful (2003)Most significant lyrics:

“I am beautiful
No matter what they say
Words can’t bring me down”

What it makes you thankful for:

Everyone has insecurities — absolutely everyone. So the next time you complain about your ingrown toenail, remember those who have no feet. The next time you’re upset that your hair fell flat, remember the cancer patient who had to lose his/her hair. But the greater point is that even if you don’t have feet or don’t have hair, there is no standard for beauty, and that regardless of what society wants to tell us, we each are beautiful in our own way. Remember it, and be thankful for it.


Lee Ann Womack — I Hope You Dance (2000)

Lee Ann Womack - I Hope You Dance (2000)Most significant lyrics:

“Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances, but they’re worth takin’
Lovin’ might be a mistake, but it’s worth makin'”

What it makes us thankful for:

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’ve made mistakes, possibly in love. This song is abundant in advice, so try to apply it to your past as much as your future, and try to be content with the way you’ve lived your life. It should teach you to accept your life as it has unfolded. Looking back, be thankful for the mistakes and the risks you took, even if they didn’t lead you where you expected.


India Arie — There’s Hope (2006)

India Arie - Hope (2006)Most significant lyrics:

“There’s hope — it doesn’t cost a thing to smile
You don’t have to pay to laugh
You better thank God for that”

What it makes you thankful for:

There are many parts of the song that evoke feelings of gratitude, but one especially when she talks about how you start out as a child wanting a million things, then realize that changing your perception of life makes a big difference in what you end up wanting. Also, she tells a story of a boy who was blind and devoted to singing; even though he was poor he claimed he lived in “paradise,” while the person he told only complained about living in the USA.

The USA, after all, is a land of opportunity, where thousands of people often seek refuge and freedom. Take some time to reflect on where you live and perhaps the people who have fought to give you the land you live on.


Kelly Clarkson — Thankful (2003)

Kelly Clarkson - Thankful (2003)Most significant lyrics:

“That I’m thankful for the blessings and the lessons that I’ve learned with you by my side”

What it makes you thankful for:

Kelly Clarkson always knows how to hit a home run with her emotional singles. In general, she praises the opportunity she has had to have a companion by her side through the trials and tribulations of life. How often do we underestimate the significance of the presence of loved ones? Do we remind them every day? Be thankful for those in your life who make the effort to reach out to you and are your rock in times of need. Not everyone may have what you have, and we never can know how long we’ll have those people in our lives.


Martina McBride — Blessed (2001)

Martina McBride - Blessed (2001)Most significant lyrics:

“I get kissed by the sun each morning
Put my feet on a hardwood floor
I get to hear my children laughing
Down the hall through the bedroom door”

What it makes you thankful for:

Life is a gift, isn’t it? Many people are sick and dying and would love another chance at life. Every day that you wake up is a new chance at life. Having a home and having children are also life’s little allowances that many don’t have. Her praise and acknowledgment of being “blessed” is a notion we all can relate to.


Alanis Morissette — Thank U (1998)

Alanis Morissette - Thank U (1998)Most significant lyrics:

“How ’bout me not blaming you for everything
How ’bout me enjoying the moment for once
How ’bout how good it feels to finally forgive you
How ’bout taking you up on your support”

What it makes you thankful for:

For those of you familiar with this song, you know how hard it is to pick just one segment of it and deem it “most significant.” This song is mind-opening. Ever heard of the logic that if we didn’t have the rain, we wouldn’t appreciate the sun? This inspiring and profound song is about acceptance and moving forward, teaching us all how thankful we should be not only for the wonderful things in our lives, but also the unfortunate things — the ones that have helped us grow and allowed us to mature.

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