Songs for Stuffing? The Music of Thanksgiving

by Denis McGilvray

On the drive home from school this past Tuesday, my daughter Emma was talking about her favorite holidays: Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving (and her birthday! ) She started talking excitedly about how she loves Thanksgiving because we get to spend the whole day over at her Nana’s house with aunts, uncles and cousins. We watch some of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, cook and eat a fabulous feast, play board games, make music with The Beatles Rock Band, maybe watch a movie, eat some more, and this year I think an epic Just Dance battle is in the works. (Anyone can play – just check out cool Grandpa Leon here!) Good times, for sure. But Emma also mentioned that Thanksgiving is different because it doesn’t have as many decorations or its own special music. I thought that was a fascinating observation, and we talked about how Thanksgiving is a celebration of family, food and the good things in our life that are maybe not as tangible.

Paulo Lopez/NPR

That thought about the lack of Thanksgiving music was stuck in my head when I was browsing the NPR Music website and found this link: Songs for Stuffing – A Thanksgiving Mix .

I had remembered that they had put up a stream of holiday music during Christmas last year, but hadn’t seen the Thanksgiving one before. I thought, what kind of music can they have on that mix that reflects Thanksgiving? When I clicked on the link and saw the play-list that goes along with the stream, I laughed out loud: all the songs are about food! Perfect. It’s an incredibly eclectic mix of songs that includes Bobby Troup’s “Hungry Man,” Bob Dylan’s “Country Pie,” Weird Al’s “Eat It,” Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man,” a hip remix of Herb Alpert’s “Whipped Cream” and much, much more. Who knew there were so many good songs about cornbread? (Cornbread beat out turkey on the mix by four to one!) There are some really some great songs in the mix. One of my favorites was the very retro, funky rock song “Chicken Payback” by The Bees, an indie rock band from England that I had never heard of before. Another treat was the nearly 14 minute long “Canned Goods” by singer-songwriter Greg Brown from his Live One album. In it, he has a spoken rap about spending the holidays with his family – it’s quite entertaining. If you have a way to play that stream through your stereo system, it might make for a nice soundtrack to your turkey day festivities.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and keep on listening…

NOTE: When you go to the page for the music stream at NPR and click on the listen button, a pop up player appears where you can hear the mix, but it’s just a continuous stream – you can’t fast forward or rewind it, you can only pause it.

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