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Show #83: Songs of Thanksgiving

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This week, we feature some Thanksgiving music to celebrate this special holiday. Thanksgiving dates back to 1621, when hard-pressed pilgrim colonists broke bread and shared a late autumn harvest meal with the Massachusetts Wampanoag tribe. The Pilgrims, humbled by the bitter cold and their lack of food, were befriended by the Native Americans who so generously shared with them their survival knowledge and whatever bounty they had.

For our eight songs of Thanksgiving, I have left out the classic Moravian choir songs and the Shaker song, “Simple Gifts,” although I do love them. Instead this year, we feature the original version of a song Massive Attack revived called, “Be Thankful for What You’ve Got,” as well as Sly & The Family Stone‘s creatively titled classic, “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).”

We’ll then hear Thelonious Monk’s instrumental “Stuffy Turkey,” before we listening to two beautiful songs: one by the late Hawaiian singer Israel ‘Iz’ Kamakawiwoʻole“What a Wonderful World”; and then another by the late Mercedes Sosa—a magnificent rendering of Violeta Parra’s song “Gracias a La Vida.”

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Japanese Kanji for Gratitude

gratitude Next, we’ve got two choral Thanksgiving songs by American composers Eric Whitacre and Alf Houkom. We’ll then wrap up this week’s show with a beautiful 1983 song by Pat Metheny, featuring the late Charle Haden and Michael Brecker, called “Every Day (I Thank You).”

gratitudeTen years ago, I visited a well-respected calligrapher during a visit to Japan, and was really moved by one of his works. I didn’t know why I was, since I neither read nor speak Japanese, but I was told that it was the combination of kanji characters for the word ‘kanshya,’ which translates to mean ‘gratitude’ in English. Anyways, this calligraphed work hangs on my wall, reminding me that I have many things to be grateful for.

If you meditate on the idea of gratitude, you might find that you also have many things to be grateful for. Such is the symbolism of Thanksgiving. That said, I hope you have a nice T-Day holiday, feast on some savory dishes, and enjoy a few days of rest and relaxation.

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Rhythm Planet Playlist: 11/26/14

  1. William De Vaughan / “Be Thankful For What You’ve Got” / Blaxploitation: The Payback Vol. 3 / Global Television LTD
  2. Sly And The Family Stone / “Thank You (Falettin Me Be Mice Elf Again)” / Greatest Hits / Epic/Legacy
  3. Thelonious Monk / “Stuffy Turkey” / It’s Monks Time / Columbia
  4. Israel ‘Iz’ Kamakawiwo’Ole / “What A Wonderful World” / Wonderful World / Mountain Apple
  5. Mercedes Sosa / “Gracias A La Vida” / Live In Argentinien / Tropical Music
  6. Eric Whitacre / “I Thank You God For This Most Amazing Day” / Cloudburst / Hyperion
  7. The Dale Warland Singers / “The Rune Of Hospitality” by Alf Houkom / December Stillness / American Choral Catalog
  8. Pat Metheny / “Everyday (I Thank You)” / 80/81 / ECM

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