Thanksgiving might be the most selfish holiday. The end of the year season brings gifts which may be more me-me-me than ho-ho-ho yet it does not have the personal focus of the third Thursday in November (in the United States.). Breaking the words apart, the day is simply for giving thanks. Not religious praise or adoration; a look at what you have done, how you treat others and how close you have strayed towards humanity. It is one day when you can enjoy guilt free pride in accomplishments. In a life and times when multi-tasking is the only way to keep your head above water, allowing yourself the time to breath and say, not bad is nearly a vacation. Keepings the thanks and giving as a filter, we have grabbed 35 songs from the American Roots format that offer a thank you. Bows and words are offered one-on-one, to family, to friends, to objects, to the times we live in and the world at large. Somewhere between turkey and football, find a smile for past accomplishments and future goals. Take a listen to how others have gotten from tanked to thanked. As John Fullbright points out in the first track, ‘what’s go bad about happy?’
01 Happy - John Fullbright (from the album Songs) - It is a good question, John…..’what is so bad about happy?’ The rhythms pick up the wind blowing through the story and John Fullbright’s whistle pierces the air as it leads the village children towards a smile.
02 Me and the Wildwood Rose - Carlene Carter (from the album Carter Girl) - The holiday is about family and though Carlene Carter’s memory is not specifically a Thanksgiving Day that takes the Carter Family down the road to sing for the miners, it is not hard to imagine that some holiday dinners were spent in Holiday Inn restaurants and food tents. They were a working family.
03 This Little Light - Mike Farris (from the album Shine for All the People) - Mike Farris finger snaps a cool jazz beat that gives a more adult theme to a track originally scripted as a children’s spiritual. A bass heavy beat, honky tonk piano, organ swells and electric guitar sass put a flame to “This Little Light”.
04 Love and Happiness - Al Green (from the album I’m Still in Love with You) - Stark guitar chords and Al Green’s sweet Soul take a breath before the beat comes into “Love and Happiness” to give thanks for just knowing that someone is there for you and with you. The power of two spreads happiness with love.
05 Home Cookin' - Leftover Salmon (from the album High Country) - As the photograph shows, the guys in Leftover Salmon have lots of thanks tor give for having Bill Payne sitting at the keyboards as the group’s newest member. The band is stirring up some “Home Cookin’” to give a little more with a stomp on a track from the upcoming release, High Country.
Leftover Salmon will release High Country on November 26, 2014
06 Get You a Healin' - Paul Thorn (from the album Too Blessed to Be Stressed) - A snaking guitar riff and handclaps bring Paul Thorn to the podium to serve a righteous message. “Get You a Healin’” puts the power into your hands with a guide to love-thy-neighbor for Dummies. Got some problems with people that you know? Well, fix them…..it really is that easy.
07 And a Bang on the Ear - The Waterboys (from the album Fisherman’s Blues) - Mike Scott reads some mail over a country folk romp from The Waterboys. Going back to grade school, each verse is an open letter to past love. Good or bad, short or long, the band send out their hearts like they did when things were good with a “Bang on the Ear”.
08 Sing About It - The Wood Brothers (from the album The Muse) - The Wood Brothers slither and sway with a percussive way to show trouble the door in ”Sing About It”. The guys are thankful about the good in their lives over an infectious rhythm that pulls you in, under and over trying times.
09 8 Dogs 8 Banjos - Old Crow Medicine Show (from the album Remedy) - Old Crow Medicine Show give balance to life with one word phrases that show subtleties (‘hot coffee, sweet tea’), point out that things are never really that bad (“ good loving, hard times) and suggest that you should be thankful for what you got (‘corn whiskey, dirt weed’)
10 Thanksgiving - Mary Gauthier (from the album Between Daylight and Dark) - Mary Gauthier takes us to another Thanksgiving Day in an alien landscape right in our own backyard. For the women in the song, the preparation for the day is not in the kitchen but in the car driving miles before dawn to get in line ‘silently waiting single file’.
11 Turnin' Blues into Gold - Phil Alvin, James Intveld, Dirty Dozen Brass Band (from the album County fair 2000) - James Intveld has a sad tale to tell as the Dirty Dozen Brass Band lead a march to match his life alone. James brings in buddy Phil Alvin for back-up and together they have turned a frown upside down. The pair are saying ‘thank you’ for getting dumped ‘casue they have found a way to “Turn Blues into Gold”…Hallelujah!
12 My Mama Loved Me - Buddy Guy (from the album Rhythm and Blues) - Buddy Guy gives thanks for a mother that ‘raised him all by herself’. He admits to mom making mistakes but freely shouts ‘My Mama Loved Me”. Mama Guy sculpted the life of her children with a hard yet steady hand that guided and prodded them into an adulthood to make her proud.
13 Shakin' All Over - Eilen Jewel (from the album Sea of Tears) - Eilen Jewell is beyond thankful and moving towards ecstatic. She us quivering and trembling over a word and turning into jelly with a touch. Give thanks!!!!
14 Good as I Feel Today - Delbert and Glen (from the album Blind, Crippled and Crazy) - Delbert McClinton and Glen Clark are feeling good as they strut into a tune that changes the Blind, Crippled and Crazy album title into a glass half full.
15 All We Can Do Is Love - Will Kimbrough (from the album Sideshow Love) - Will Kimbrough is giving mountains of thanks. From the mountains of Tibet, he brings the wisdom of words that can guide, inform and support. To give a solid foundation for the statements, Will goes to the Appalachian mountains for stark banjo notes and ground shaking stomps.
16 Our Day Will Come - Pete Anderson (from the album Working Class) - Pete Anderson brings ray of hopes and fills tomorrow with real promises without saying one word in his version of “Our Day Will Come”. A hammered heartbeat sets the pace as an accordion sets the motion and the guitar notes paint the sky with a new dawn.
17 The Fortunate Ones - Amy Speace (from the album How to Sleep in a Stormy Boat) - Amy Speace polishes the many facets that come together to make us shine like diamonds. Thanks is for our pain and our joy, our falls and our leaps, the mistakes and the success. The fortune comes from the extremes allowing us to see the middle road to happiness.
18 Thank You - JW-Jones (from the album Belmont Boulevard) - JW-Jones uses “Thank You” as a kiss off to a love gone bad. The pair in the tale finally see an exit and that is where JW puts his thanks. Without being done wrong he could never again be done right.
19 Georgia on My Mind - Leon Russell (from the album Life Journey) - Leon Russell does a double dare up against perfection with singing and playing piano on a tune that Ray Charles did the same for with “Georgia on My Mind”. The playing differs with Leon never making the notes seem structured where Ray’s flow over the keys always had a smooth order. Big Band horns punch a hole in the song like fireworks in a night sky.
20 Tim Revisited - Marshall Chapman (from the album Big Lonesome) - Big Lonesome was a goodbye from Marshall Chapman to her bandmate, co-songwriter and friend, Tim Krekel. Her way of letting go gives thanks for many years of music and life, and takes us back to ‘one night in Kentucky’ when the band got it right and love was in the air. Turn it up!
Listen and buy “Tim Revisited” by Marshall Chapman from AMAZON
21 Thank You - Dan Zanes (from the album Little Nut Tree) - Dan Zanes has been an emissary of Roots music for the pre-school set over the past years. His music is geared for a younger audience without ever compromising or editing the instrumentation to ‘fit in’ with the easy to read stories. The words of Dan’s “Thank You” span generations as well as offer what very well be your child’s first introduction to deep Dub.
22 I Thank You - Sam and Dave (from the album The Best of Sam and Dave) - Sometimes a thanks is just that easy. You didn’t have to do it, and you did it anyway….thank you. Sam and Dave testify to all the things that ‘you did but you did’ over a funky Memphis Soul romp that is its own thanks.
Listen and buy “I Thank You” by Sam and Dave from AMAZON or iTunes
23 Thank God I'm a Country Boy - Special Consensus & Friends (from the album Country Boy: Bluegrass Tribute to John Denver) - Tributing a thank you to John Denver, Special Consensus brought in some friends to let fiddles and strings fly over a determined bass thump. “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” includes a shout out for the high country and mountain music.
24 Lucky Boy - The Wages of Sin (from the album Queensbury Rules) - Thanksgiving and pride in a job well done varies from person to person. It has been said that good girls love bad boys. In “Lucky Boy”, the resident bad boy gives a little love for himself as he makes his way through the self-inflicted hurdles of a day.
25 Remember the Ones - Eric Bibb feat. Linda Tillery (from the album Blues People) - Linda Tillery and Eric Bibb turn back the hands of time with sweet Southern Soul to give thanks to those souls that stayed strong as they gave segregation a past-due date. To truly thank the past, give it to the future, and the song reminds us to let out children know how they are, and how they got there.
26 Come Together - Stacy Mitchhart (from the album Live My Life) - It is never nice to name names, and Stacy Mitchhart follows suit with the Beatles original take on the folks stopping by for a holiday meal. “Come Together” offers a seat at the table as it finger points the shortcomings of its guests.
27 Thankful - Delta Reign (from the album Home) - Warm winds come in off the gulf to move through and soak the music of Delta Reign. Their thanks for home and family is heard in every word of the song and felt in every note,
28 Thank You Los Angeles - Matt Ellis (from the album The Greatest Escape) - Bittersweet fortunes mixes with the spicy temptation of the challenges offered by the adoptive city of the-next big-things from worldwide small towns. Matt Ellis gives a “Thank You Los Angeles” that is equal bitter and sweet as he tips his hat and watches his wallet.
29 All Right Here - Eliza Gilkyson (from the album The Nocturne Diaries) - Eliza Gilkyson gives a thank you to not making the good decision but making the right one. She is blessed in more ways than the promises that fame whispered in her ear could ever fulfill.
30 I Celebrate Life - Pete Seeger (from the album Dear Jean; Artists Celebrate Jean Ritchie) - Pete Seeger enjoyed a long friendship with singer-songwriter, Jean Ritchie. For the recent tribute thank you to the artist, Pete’s contribution to Dear Jean was one of his last recorded performances.
31 - Thankyous - Janis Ian (from the album Stars) - Janis Ian led the way for singer-songwriter in the 1970’s as well as giving a voice to racism in relationships with her first hit “Society’s Child”. Janis is giving thanks to the music, finally hearing a way to say how she feels for ‘the laughter, the heartache and the tears’.
32 Fat and Bald - Shelby Bottom String Band (from the album East Nashville Rag) - Bald is the male version of gravity…it is already in place, you are not beating it. The thank you from the Shelby Bottom String Band is for the love that keeps them warm at night. It is so good that they can ignore the heat rushing out of that great big empty space on their tops of their collective heads.
33 Greetings from Nashville - Jason and the Scorchers (from the album Essential) - Jason and the Scorchers are giving thanks for the wealth pouring into the ‘new south’. They are happy inhabitants of the third coast, ignoring the harsh looks from Hank and Lefty and trying not to trip over the kudzu vines.
34 Thank God for the Highways - The Spinney Brothers (from the album Tried and True) - The thank you from The Spinney Brothers is a double-edged sword. They are family men and music men. They need to travel the highways for work and they need to stay on the highways to head back home.
35 Mercedes Benz - Janis Joplin (from the album Pearl) - Closing out the list for Thanksgiving is a pay-it-forward thank you from Janis Joplin. She has a wish list so that next holiday she can add a color TV and Mercedes Benz as her trophies from the past year. Until then, she will settle for a night on the town or maybe just buy the next round.