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Hello, one and all.
So, Thanksgiving Day is upon us and I felt that if there's anything to be thankful in this life, it's music. It's always been a true blessing in my life and I figured a 'list of thankful tunes to go with your Turkey Marbella, Stove Top stuffing, and cranberry sauce. They're from all decades and hope you have a great turkey day from me and my buddy, Calvin "Oates" Cherry.
Cherry Picks: Songs About Thanks
"Thank You" - Dido (2000)
One Dido Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O'Malley Armstrong from the UK had her one massive hit in the 2Ks with this ode to her boyfriend. I suppose if there's anything to be thankful for, it's the love of your life. She would have another hit in "White Flag," but this one is clearly her signature song.
"Thank U" - Alanis Morrissette (1998)
After the success of her mega-smash 1995 US debut album Jagged Little Pill, she would retreat for a couple of years before releasing her 1998 followup: Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. This song was the lead off single which found Morrissette thanking everything from her misfortunes to her trip in India where she was forward about needing clarity. No such other song to my knowledge has ever done that, and makes it one of this iconic Canadian singer's best songs.
"Have I Told You Lately" - Rod Stewart (1993)
The most memorable version of this song is the Rod Stewart cover hit he performed in his MTV Unplugged episode. To those who don't know, Irish star Van Morrison recorded the song back in 1989, and it was meant to be lyrically considered a song about prayer. But the masses embraced it as a more romantic ballad and it became a wedding song standard. "Giving thanks and praying to the One" should've been the tip-off, but it proves how music is very subjective to the palette.
"Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" - Sly and the Family Stone (1969)
A song that lit up dance floors long before disco would. This LA, multi-racial band would score their biggest hit in the early 1970s with an interesting play on words. The song would also namedrop the band's long and successful song catalog. The funkiness would continue with their last number one hit: "Family Affair" from 1971.
"Gratitude" - Oingo Boingo w. Danny Elfman (1984)
A personal favorite of mine from this LA new wave band was actually an album cut off the 1984 Beverly Hills Cop movie soundtrack. The song seems to be a tongue-in-cheek look at life in chaos and lead singer Danny Elfman (yes, THAT one who would score half-a-dozen action movies) would ask, "Now is that gratitude?" Eh, it has gratitude in the title. That's good enough for me.
"Gratitude" - Earth Wind & Fire (1975)
This funky super-group from Chicago, IL had a much more clearer vision with their song and that was just merely "giving thanks." A nice, killer dance/disco/funk groove that will certainly make you thankful.
"Thank You For Being a Friend" - Andrew Gold (1978)
This late Burbank, CA native scored a big hit in 1977 with what felt like an autobiographical tune: "Lonely Boy." His followup hit, which was clearly written as a thank you to a close friend, wasn't quite a big hit, but would have a second life as a theme to a classic 1985-1992 NBC-TV sitcom about a group of older women living in South Florida. Of course, I'm talking about The Golden Girls.
"Thank You For The Music" - ABBA (1977)
This is one of my favorites from this Swedish super-group which is a love letter to (allegedly) the Almighty for the greatest invention ever: music. The song would have a second life in 1983 when it was released as a single, possibly as a swan song for the group who would disband that year.
"Because You Loved Me" - Celine Dion (1996)
A classic 1990s love ballad which was actually the theme to a "Star is Born"-esque drama starring Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer called Up Close and Personal. Basically, the theme of the song? A thank you (perhaps a posthumous one; maybe a eulogy) to the inspirational person the singer loved. The song itself has a universal theme of thanking the person who meant the most to you throughout your life. Mother, brother, friend, teacher; you get the idea.
"Danke Schoen" - Wayne Newton (1963)
A jaunty, sweet, and charming "break-up" song by the King of Las Vegas when he was 21 years old. It almost sounds like a teenager thanking that ex-girlfriend for the few good times, bad times, and a chance to move on to their respective new lives. Became an unsanctioned theme to the John Hughes 1986 comedy classic: Ferris Bueller's Day Off. If you're not German...it literally translates: "thank you."
Moving on to...
Cherry Picks: Songs I Am Thankful For
"Love Is Alive" - Gary Wright (1976)
This 1976 rock ballad by one-time member of the progressive rock band Spooky Tooth was the followup to his signature debut hit "Dream Weaver". Though lyrics are subjective, it seems almost hymn-like in its execution and has a very strong gospel vibe. My thanks to Mr. Wright for this wonderful gem.
"Kiss and Say Goodbye" - The Manhattans (1976)
An admittedly odd choice for a "thank you" song, but my thanks are in order to this New Jersey vocal group (named after the cocktail, NOT the NYC borough) for introducing me to soul music. This sad song is obviously about ending an affair, but the strings and harmonies are what stand out in this late-70s classic. A number one smash on both the pop and soul charts in the bicentennial year.
"I Feel Love" - Donna Summer (1977)
As I had previously written about this disco diva queen, she was my first pop idol. I will always be thankful to her for being the one to introduce me to popular music in the first place. This pulse-pounding, futuristic, techno-disco bauble still plays in my iPod after 40 years!
"Boogie Nights" - Heatwave (1977)
And speaking of 40 year anniversaries, this multi-racial disco/R&B band wins my vote for the catchiest, most robust dance floor classic. An interesting side note is that the song was written by the late UK songwriter Rod Temperton (a Caucasian) who would score big R&B/soul/dance hits for Michael Jackson, James Ingram, George Benson and Michael McDonald.
"Funkytown" - Lipps, Inc. (1980)
As you may have guessed, there's a musical pattern here. If it weren't for disco music, I wouldn't have had an appreciation for all forms of popular music. Though technically the last official disco number one hit from this Minneapolis, MN band, benefits from a hip-swiveling synth beat, bass, sexy vocoder and Cynthia Johnson's soaring vocals adding the icing to this ear-candy confection.
"Steal My Sunshine" - Len (1999)
One of those rare indie/pop/trip-hop hits from the late-90s that stuck to me like peanut butter to the ribs. This Canadian hip-hop/pop/rap outfit scored their only US hit in the last year of the 20th century and was also a movie song used in the Doug Liman directed action-comedy Go. Didn't hurt that Andrea True Connection's 1976 disco hit "More More More" was its sample hook.
"Viva La Vida" - Coldplay (2008)
This UK band got me with this string-laden baroque pop/rock hit. It was the song I heard incessantly at my job as I had tried to rebuild my life in my hometown of NYC after having to relocate briefly to Atlanta when I got laid off from work. There was something hopeful about the song as it almost felt ethereal when I would hear it. It felt like...what happiness and heaven could actually sound like.
"Closer" - The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey (2016)
I've pretty much sworn off today's music, until this sensual dance track restored my faith in popular music as only but a tiny few 2010s hits and artists even remotely peak my interest. Bruno Mars, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Maroon 5, and Owl City would be the select few. But this NYC-based DJ-Electronica duo would earn my respect with this smash hit which featured singer/songwriter Halsey on co-vocal. It's a basic ode to sex between a former couple.
"True Colors" - Cyndi Lauper (1986)
This song was my "coming out" song as I began high school. A sweet ballad about finding and embracing one's personal identity. Considered the first song embracing the LGBTQ community long before Lady Gaga told us we were all "Born This Way."
"Like a Prayer" - Madonna (1989)
Long gone was the "virgin" or the "material girl" and in its place, a daring, raw, passionate artist who dared to prove that she also believed in spirituality. This signature smash (one of many) was the first time she addressed the idea of belief in God; a subject I still have difficulty reconciling with, due to abuse I had sustained in the church my mother belonged to. It's still one of the few genuinely spiritual songs I dug, despite my atheism. Madonna may be the only secular artist to pull it off, maybe better than most Christian or religious artist of her era. It's a definite celebration of spirituality from an icon who was far from being "material." Thank you, Madge for your contributions and for this powerful hit.
I am always thankful to the artists and to the readers who read my posts. Have a great Thanksgiving day.