Songs of Thanksgiving

This week we feature some Thanksgiving songs. Thanksgiving goes back to 1621, when hard-pressed Pilgrim colonists broke bread and shared a late-autumn harvest meal with the Massachusetts Wampanoag tribe. The pilgrims were humbled by the bitter cold and lack of food, and the native Americans shared their knowledge and whatever bounty they had.

We feature eight songs of Thanksgiving this week. I have left out classics like Moravian choir songs and the Shaker song, "Simple Gifts" although I love them. Instead we have the original version of a song Massive Attack revived, "Be Thankful for What You've Got", and the creatively titled Sly & The Family Stone classic, "Thank you Fa Lettin Me Be Mice Elf Again".

Thelonious Monk gives us an instrumental, "Stuffy Turkey", then we hear two beautiful songs, the late Hawaiian singer Israel 'Iz' Kamakawiwoʻole's "What a Wonderful World" and Mercedes Sosa's magnificent rendering of Violeta Parra's song "Gracias a La Vida".

gratitudeNext, it's two Thanksgiving songs in choral style by American composers Eric Whitacre and Alf Houkom. We wrap it up with a beautiful 1983 song by Pat Metheny, featuring the late Charle Haden and Michael Brecker, "Every Day I Thank You".

gratitudeIn Japan a decade ago, I visited a well-respected calligrapher and one work of his really moved me but I didn't know why (I don't read or speak Japanese). I was told it was the character for "gratitude". It 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 things to be grateful for too. Such is the symbolism of Thanksgiving. That being said, I hope you have a nice T-Day holiday, enjoy some savory dishes, and have a few days of rest and relaxation.

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





Tom Schnabel