A Buffet in Between

Over at WNEW.com today, I briefly retell the story of the Thanksgiving morning, 30 years ago now, on which I got a phone call from an angry listener near the end of my radio show, demanding to know why I hadn’t played any Thanksgiving songs. It was mainly because there aren’t very many. Halloween has produced its fair share of songs, and Christmas is responsible for thousands of them. But Thanksgiving rarely represents much of a muse for songwriters. I’m not sure whether that’s a cause of Thanksgiving becoming a mere speed bump on the way to Christmas, or an effect of it.

There are lots of songs that invoke thanks, and I list a few in my WNEW post. But there are not very many that deal specifically with the Thanksgiving celebration itself. The day’s iconography, turkeys, corn shocks, and Pilgrim hats, doesn’t lend itself to imagery like Christmas does. Watching football does not inspire songwriters like happy children’s faces do. The Macy’s parade lacks the thrill of Santa coming down the chimney. Nothing rhymes with cornucopia.

That is not to say nobody ever tried. Singer/songwriter Loudon Wainwright III has two songs that fit this day. “Suddenly It’s Christmas” humorously captures the too-early start and too-hectic nature of our modern Christmas celebrations. And although I am long past weary of the difficult-family-relationship trope in popular culture, “Thanksgiving” offers a vivid description of an unhappy family, and happier times.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all, and thanks for your continued support of this Internet feature.

2 responses

  1. jb, happy Thanksgiving to you and the Mrs.

  2. Just saw Loudon perform both of these a couple weekends ago opening up for John Prine. It was my first time seeing him, and frankly my first intro to him music. Really enjoyable. “Thanksgiving” made me thankful for a mostly non-dysfunctional family.

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