20 Best Songs for Thanksgiving

Celebration of Life
feature image

20 Best Songs for Thanksgiving

It's that time of the year again! Yes, one of the most vibrant seasons is upon us: Autumn. The series of memorable holidays during the Fall and early Winter start in October with Halloween, and ends with New Year's Eve on the last day of December. It's a time filled with joy and family gatherings. In the U.S., the centerpiece of this time of the year is Thanksgiving Day. It is perhaps the most American of holidays because it is unique to the country. While the act of giving thanks itself is universal and don't require special holidays (we should always be grateful, after all), Thanksgiving traces its roots to the colonial period of what would become the United States of America.

Unlike Halloween with its ghoulish music and Christmas with its classic tunes, Thanksgiving-themed music is hard to come by. When you think of Christmas, there is a soundtrack that automatically plays in your head because there so many Christmas songs, and they are played constantly almost everywhere you go during the holidays. However, we at Memories would like to change that. We've created a Thanksgiving playlist that your whole family will enjoy.

20. "Thanksgiving Song" —Mary Chapin Carpenter

This timeless song has a nostalgic feel due to the country ballad style and acoustic folk sound. It's a great song to relax to after hours preparing meals in the kitchen. Pay close attention to the lyrics, because they poetically articulate the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

19. "Thank You" —Dido

This hit from Dido may not necessarily pertain to Thanksgiving or Fall season, but its message definitely encapsulates the spirit of Thanksgiving. The harmony and sound of the track is also very relaxing, and will make for a nice background music during meal preparation.

18. "I’ve Got Plenty to be Thankful For" —Bing Crosby

Bing Crosby is famous for his holiday hits. Although he's known for his Christmas tunes, this song makes a great addition to your Turkey Day playlist. The lyrics illustrate the importance of seeing life through optimistic eyes. No matter where you are in life, Bing Crosby reminds us that there are plenty of things to be thankful for.

17. "Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie" —Jay & The Techniques

Thanksgiving revolves around the table and the glorious amounts of food we should all be thankful for. This great tune from Jay & The Techniques will surely make your mouth water in anticipation for the feast your family has prepared.

16. "Thank You Friends" —Big Star

Thanksgiving is not just about being thankful for our family members, but being grateful for having wonderful friends in our lives as well. This song reminds us that friends are an extension of our family. Our friends are there for us through thick and thin just like our relatives, so show them your appreciation with this song by Big Star.

15. "Home" —Phillip Phillips

Thanksgiving is about being home for the holidays and spending our precious time with those we hold closest to our hearts. Home is where love resides. It is our roots and our foundation which we can always return to. If you live far away from your family and hometown friends, this the perfect tune to play during your trip home.

14. "Macy's Day Parade" —Green Day

Green Day, surprisingly, has a lot of Fall and Winter-themed songs in their extensive catalog. This is one of them. Watching the Thanksgiving Macy's Day parade in the heart of New York City is a tradition for many Americans, even if they've never been to New York. If you're lucky enough to watch the parade in person, this is a great song to play while you watch the giant balloons float by.

13. "Turkey Chase" —Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan is a legendary singer who has a song for just about any occasion. This instrumental track will provide a great soundtrack when you're stuffing or basting the turkey.

12. "Let’s Turkey Trot" —Little Eva

This is one of the most upbeat tracks in our playlist. This classic pop tune will have your whole family dancing in no time! You can even make your own turkey dance. This song will bring much-needed energy to your Thanksgiving.

11. "Thank You Girl" —The Beatles

You can never go wrong with a Beatles song. This one is for the lovers out there. It will remind you to be thankful for your wonderful partner who is always by your side through the good and the bad. This love song is a perfect tune for a Thanksgiving date.

10. "Almost Thanksgiving Day" —Graham Parker

Forget about the notification on your phone or web calendar, Graham Parker's song is a better reminder that Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner. This moody country song might sound a bit solemn for some, but we think it will make a great soundtrack for those cool Autumn nights when you're siting by the fireplace with a hot drink.

9. "Biscuits" —Kacey Musgraves

If you're familiar with Southern-style Thanksgiving with deep-fried turkey and gravy-smothered biscuits, then this tune will make you laugh. Not only does it reference some delicious food, but it's also a witty reply to those nosey family members who ask too many personal questions during Thanksgiving dinner (we still love them though).

8. "We are Family" —Sister Sledge

This is another upbeat song that will have your family dancing in the living room, or singing at the top of your lungs in the kitchen. This is one of the biggest hits of all time, performed by Sister Sledge, and it's not surprising why it's universally loved. Any song that champions the importance of family and unity will always find a home in the holiday playlist.

7. "Sweet Potato Pie" —Ray Charles

The food references in this playlist is not done! This great tune by the legendary Ray Charles is not only soulful and smooth, it will make you hungry. Make sure you play this track after you've eaten so you don't torture yourself anticipating the dessert.

6. "The Thanksgiving Song" —Adam Sandler

Adam Sandler has become famous for his hilarious holiday songs. Many of his parody songs were recorded live during an SNL broadcast. This song is funny and charming. You should always have a couple of classic Adam Sandler songs on your holiday playlist.

5. "I Want to Thank You" —Otis Redding

Otis Redding is one of the greatest vocalists and songwriters ever. This song is about thankful an unlikely person in your life: your ex. Yes, that's right. Even an ex-flame deserves a thank you because they help you grow as a person. After all, we learn many things about ourselves and others during a relationship. However, the song lyrics can apply to just about anyone in your life and reminds you to be thankful for their presence.

4. "Thanksgiving Prayer" —Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash is one of the best musicians to ever pick up a guitar. This song is soulful and evocative. You can feel the spirituality in this track, even if you're not religious. The deeper meaning of the song speaks to the universal spirit of giving thanks. In the song, he paints American landscapes with this lyrics and recalls memories of childhood. It's a great track to play at night when you're relaxing with loved ones.

3. "Autumn Leaves" —Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole is a master of his craft. The iconic hitmaker evokes images of the Autumn colors in this song. The transition of leaves during the Fall is a poetic reminder that change is a part of life. That's why it's important to spend as much time as you can with family and close friends, because nothing is permanent.

2. "Thankful" —Kelly Clarkson

This upbeat song by Kelly Clarkson will surely lift up your spirits. It's a great song to sing to while you're decorating the house or preparing the feast in the kitchen.

1. "Cooking Up Something Good" —Mac DeMarco

Mac DeMarco's unique and soothing voice is on full display in this awesome song. Food may be the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving holiday, but it's being around those you love that is the most important. This song is a great addition to the Thanksgiving playlist, and reminds us the true essence of cooking the food: to bond with each other in the kitchen.