Every year about this time we're told to pause, assess our lives and figure out a way to be happy—and grateful—for them. It's pedantic, sure. But after you've told the person who told you to be thankful to get hence, and you think about it, you realize there's some merit to it. Especially because every year, by about this time, we've forgotten why life is good. Here's some music to go with that whole routine.
Vince Guaraldi Trio, "Thanksgiving Theme" from A Charlie Brown Christmas (Fantasy, 2012 reissue). Essential. You know why? No lyrics. Just musical feels and childhood memories.
Pink Lightning, "Thank You for Enjoying Pink Lightning" from Pink Lightning (PinkLightning666.Bandcamp.com, 2007). Bad Brad Wheeler, Eli Morrison and Jawsh Belka end their debut album with this short little ditty—a reprise of the opening shot, "Welcome to Pink Lightning." Interestingly, both tracks kinda totally sound like "Hey Jude." Aside from the bah-bahs, there are no lyrics—but the gratitude is expressed succinctly and sufficiently in the title, which is also a fun way to sign off after a sexual conquest.
Grateful Dead, "Loose Lucy" from Grateful Dead from the Mars Hotel (Grateful Dead Records, 1974). Yo, dawg. I heard you're grateful for gratitude, so here's a song about declining degrees of gratitude by a band named for gratitude so you can hear Grateful while you feel progressively less grateful. Thank you.
Burnell Washburn, "Gratitude" from Gratitude (BurnellWashburn.com, 2014). Sup, doo? Here's more "Gratitude"-on-Gratitude action from one of Salt Lake City's best emcees and beatsmiths. This is Burn's prenatal message to his baby girl, and he conveys the magnitude of paternal love so gently and sincerely that any father—especially a father of daughters—will weep openly upon hearing lines like "I love you/ thank you/ the two most important phrases/ that I could ever choose to say to you" and "I'm overwhelmed with the blessings we've been offered/ a gift from the heavens/ just to get to be a father."
Moon Farmer, "Whiskey" and "Thank Eddie" from From Under These Houses (MoonFarmer.Bandcamp.com, 2012). Maybe this year you're thankful to one person in particular and his name is Eddie. Why, exactly, you're indebted to him doesn't matter. This Krautrockin' duo, comprised of local music vets Rory Carrera and Josh McCafferty, aren't really into lyrics. So after you enjoy the repetitive squawking of "Whis-kaaaaaaay!" on the preceding track, feel free to put your own words to this watery, hypnotic instro jam.
Sam & Dave, "I Thank You" from I Thank You (Atlantic, 1968). Sam Moore and Dave Prater—both as Sam & Dave and The Swanky Modes (if you haven't, you should see the John Cusack/Tim Robbin's 1988 film Tapeheads pronto)—are responsible for some sublime soul music. This nugget, written by Isaac Hayes and Dave Porter, is one of their best. The pair distills the unbridled joy of knowing you're loved and loved well into 2:46 of funky soul that'll have you doin' the happy dance while singing, "You didn't have to love me like you did/ but you did/ but you did/ and I thank you.
Leyenda Oculta—"Te Lo Agradeceria" from Leyenda Oculta (Reverbnation.com/LeyendaOculta4). Even when someone you love leaves you, you can appreciate one final favor from them—like staying gone so you can heal. Even if you don't speak Spanish, this West Valley rock en español foursome pours enough emotion into their performance that you can intuit and appreciate the heartache of the song's forlorn protagonist.
Hamell on Trial—"Happiest Man in the World" from The Happiest Man in the World (New West, 2014). "Thanks for nothin'" doesn't have to sound so bitchy—a guy can be grateful for what he has, even if it seems like jack shit. "Sometimes you gotta open up your eyes and see what life is truly for ... / you ain't broke/ ... but the stuff you got, it'll break." He finishes the tune singing, "Ain't been broker/ in all o' my days/ and I gotta say/ I'm the happiest man in the world."