Is One Halfway Decent Thanksgiving Pop Song Too Much to Ask For?
Not so long ago, Rocks Off was wondering why there has never been a decent pop song about Thanksgiving. Not despairing, just wondering. Apart from all the complete shite, you could fill an entire wing of your iTunes library with quality tunes about Thankgiving's yuletide neighbor, but Turkey Day itself?
Try to name even one memorable, poignant, stirring, meaningful or even amusing popular song about the holiday. True, there's Adam Sandler's "Thanksgiving Song," but one of our closest advisors argued that one doesn't count because it's comedy. We disagree, but nevertheless, it's still about the closest thing the U.S. has ever seen to a Thanksgiving "hit."
Since 1621, when the pilgrims first decided to celebrate surviving the passage from England by eating themselves near-comatose, and especially since Congress officially designated the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day in 1941, the day has lulled America's songwriters into a creative Tryptophan coma. Maybe they'd simply rather watch football.
This mental debate took place before Rocks Off became aware of one "It's Thanksgiving" by Nicole Westbrook, the Auto-tuned YouTube sensation of the moment at five million views and counting. Available on iTunes this very day, the song was written and produced by Patrice Wilson, the Nigerian-American who did the same thing for last year's Rebecca Black Internet-earworm "Friday." Wilson's Hitchcockian penchant for making cameos in his videos has sparked more than one To Catch a Predator Comment on YouTube; here he shows up in a full-size turkey costume.
"It's Thanksgiving" is useful if you have trouble keeping track of the year's major holidays, have ever felt the need to seize a turkey leg to use as a microphone or have a wicked yearning for some mashed potatoes (understandable). Otherwise it is a grating yet trifling bit of soulless, soul-sucking dance-pop fluff that should make any reasonable person over the age of 12 want to stab out their earholes. (Listen here, if you absolutely must.)
So America is still waiting for a decent Thanksgiving pop song. Rocks Off did a little digging, and found these musical giblets that are apparently the best the country has been able to do thus far. Sad, sad, sad.
George Winston, "Thanksgiving": From the smooth-jazz pianist's December album, this doesn't really count because it's an instrumental. Without words, how do we know it's really about Thanksgiving?
Jim Brickman, "Thanksgiving": Ouch. Also an instrumental, New Age pianist Jim Brickman's "Thanksgiving" ups the snooziness of even Winston's version by a factor of ten. Maybe there is something to all this Tryptophan business.
Poi Dog Pondering, "Thanksgiving": Via Hawaii and Chicago, these Austin rockers could do funk just as well as folk, and were on the verge of breaking big in the early '90s; "Jack Ass Ginger" is still a great tune. "Thanksgiving," from 1989's Wishing Like a Mountain and Thinking Like the Sea, isn't bad (if a little earnest), but it's not the great Thanksgiving song either.
Mary Gauthier, "Thanksgiving": The Louisiana-born Gauthier is a wonderful songwriter, but her "Thanksgiving" is set at her home state's Tallulah State Prison. Next!
Ray Davies, "Thanksgiving Day": Even the dependably razor-witted Kinks founder isn't much help in the face of Thanksgiving. This song from his 2006 disc Other People's Lives is populated by lonely drifters and people far from home until it finally yields to Hallmark sentimentality. Ick.
Loudon Wainwright III, "Thanksgiving": OK, this one isn't half bad. Lucy, Rufus and Martha's dad says grace before Thanksgiving dinner, dreading the meal that is to come: "Remind us that we are all grown-up adults, no longer children/ Now it's our kids that spill the milk, and our turn to want to kill them."
So we'll end on a (relatively) high note. But finally, there is also a songwriter in Portland who has released several Pavementesque albums of lo-fi indie-rock under the name Thanksgiving. Can we go back to grandma's house now?
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