Whether you're gloating over the election results at a family reunion, or simply giving thanks that you came up with a convincing excuse not to attend, we can all use a thematically appropriate soundtrack to underscore those special holiday moments. With that in mind, here are 10 tasty tracks whose sentiments range from gratitude to attitude, and all points in between. Or, as Loudon Wainwright III put it in his song "Thanksgiving": "Lord, every year we gather here / To eat around this table / Give us the strength to stomach as much / As fast as we are able."
Sly & The Family Stone, "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)"
There are three reasons why the Stone family needs to start this list: First, there's the close-knit family tradition; Sly was all of 9 years old when he started performing gospel music with his siblings. Second, because Sly, Freddie and Rose pioneered a psychedelic-soul sound that presaged everything from jazz fusion to jam bands. And lastly, because the words "thank you" appear in it 15 times.
Che Bong, "Be Thankful"
Best known as a member of the Colorado Springs rap collective Bullhead*ded, Che Bong here delivers a hip-hop/doo-wop version of William DeVaughn's "Be Thankful for What You Got," the timeless classic about "digging the scene with a gangsta lean" that's been sampled and reprised by artists ranging from N.W.A. to Massive Attack. Che Bong's version appears on his debut album Sleeping While You're Awake. The original, he says, was his mother's favorite record to sing along to when he was growing up.
Cab Calloway: "Everybody Eats When They Come to my House"
"Have a banana, Hannah / Try the salami, Tommy / Get with the gravy, Davy / Everybody eats when they come to my house." So go the opening lines to the irrepressible jazz legend's 1948 ode to culinary hospitality. Turkey is not on the menu, but tomatoes, cacciatore, bologna, pancakes, bagels, cherries, knishes, latkes and chili con carne most definitely are. Extra points for rhyming "pasta fazoula" with Tallulah.
Adam Sandler, "Thanksgiving Song"
Only because somebody would complain if it wasn't on here.
Johnny Cash, "Thanksgiving Prayer"
When the Man in Black delivers a song called "Thanksgiving Prayer," we expect the kind of heart-rending stoicism that Merle Haggard personified with his laid-off-at-Christmas classic "If We Make It Through December." But here, we find nothing of the sort. Instead, the song is a celebration of family and friends, culminating in an expression of heartfelt gratitude: "This year when I count my blessings," sings Cash, "I'm thanking the Lord he made you."
Sister Sledge, "We Are Family"
"We are family, I got all my sisters with me," chant siblings Debbie, Joni, Kim and Kathy Sledge on the chorus of this 1979 R&B/pop classic. With Chic's Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards at the production helm, it's a feel-good sing-along that doubles as both family celebration and feminist anthem.
Drive-By Truckers, "The Thanksgiving Filter"
For those needing a break from all this sincerity, everyone's second-favorite Athens, Georgia, rock band offers up this loping 2010 single's holiday tableau: "So put the food on the table, and papa says a blessing / They're cutting up some turkey, and gobbling some dressing / My Aunt's praising Palin, and my niece loves Obama / My uncle came to dinner, wearing his pajamas." (Best not to dwell on that last image.)
Insane Clown Posse, "Miracles"
Because Juggalos need love, too.
Ray Davies, "Thanksgiving Day"
Back in his Kinks days, Ray Davies let the heartbreaking sentimentality of songs like "Waterloo Sunset" take a backseat to the sly-verging-on-slapstick humor of lyrics like "The last time I played Father Christmas / I stood outside a department store / A gang of kids came over and mugged me / And knocked my reindeer to the floor." But brother Ray has sobered up over time, in more ways than one, resulting in a holiday song with the most poignant lyrics you'll find on this list: "Papa looks over at the small gathering / Remembering days gone by / Smiles at the children as he watches them play / And wishes his wife was still by his side."
Magazine, "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)"
Because everything must come full circle, and Howard Devoto is one of the few vocalists who can make a Sly & The Family Stone song sound sinister.