(Originally published Nov. 24, 2015)
In this season of giving thanks, we all have something to be thankful for, even if it may not always seem so. And every year around this time, we take time to be near loved ones, watch some good ol’ NFL football, and take advantage of the one holiday (ok, maybe one of several) that allows us to break all those proper dietary rules and long-gone new year’s resolutions without shame.
While preparing for this year’s annual feast of turkey, stuffing, gravy, yams, and sweet potato pie (yes, even Patti’ LaBelle’s 2015 addition to the traditional menu), I thought it’d be fun to come up with a list of the most gracious songs of all time. In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, these are the songs that say “thank you” unlike any other.
And if you haven’t begun your long drive yet, maybe you can enhance your travel experience by accessing my special Thanksgiving playlist (on Spotify) and bringing these tunes along with you.
Or maybe you’re already home, cuddled up with that special someone, sipping on some nog and feeling extra appreciative for all that you’ve been given over the past year.
Whatever your circumstance, I know I certainly have a lot to be thankful for. Great family, friends, a decent living and the ability to bring a new djrobblog article to readers each week. Your loyalty has resulted in the 10-month-old site’s readership going up every month since it started in January.
And while Hallmark may have the market cornered on expressions of thanks, allow djrobblog to say “thank you” in a way that may just give the greeting card people a run for their money with this list.
Here they are – in countdown fashion – the 15 best thank-you songs…ever!
15. “Thanks For My Child” – Cheryl Pepsii Riley. Not many pop music fans (or anyone under 30, for that matter) will remember this #1 R&B hit from 1988, but this ode to single motherhood touched many hearts (and evoked a few tears along the way) when it was a hit back in the day. Funny how timeless its message is, as its target audience of single mothers (and deadbeat dads) is probably larger, percentage-wise per-capita, than it was 27 years ago.
14. “Thank God I Found You” – Mariah Carey. This is one of Mariah’s gazillion number one hits, and perhaps one of her least-remembered. Nonetheless, it’s actually one of her better songs, in my opinion. In 2000, this understated tune ushered Mariah into the new millennium – pre-Glitter – and was her last #1 before the mid-2000s comeback à la Emancipation of Mimi and its many hit singles. You may have forgotten about this one, buts it’s still a good listen nearly 16 years on.
13. “Thank You For The Music” – ABBA. Talk about your tributes to the singularly talented. This song’s lyrics – sung convincingly by ABBA’s Agnetha Fältskog – readily acknowledge that just about the only thing the protagonist is good at is the music…so thank you for it, whoever “you” might be. This ABBA anthem (one of their many) closes out the group’s Gold compilation CD, so maybe it’s more fitting that we thank ABBA for all the music they’ve given us.
12. “Thank You” – Boyz II Men. This quartet of doo-whoppers had much to be thankful for back in their heyday, and they expressed it with this mostly a cappella 3rd single released from their second album, II. Its two predecessors, “I’ll Make Love To You” and “On Bended Knee” had just topped the Hot 100 chart in 1994/95 for 20 combined weeks (actually replacing themselves at #1). No other recording act was hotter at the time, except maybe their one-time duet partner Mariah.
11. “Thank God It’s Friday” – Love & Kisses. In the year of Saturday Night Fever and Grease, this 1978 movie and soundtrack kinda got lost in the shuffle. But like those two releases on RSO records, this album was on disco’s other big label at the time, Casablanca records, and gave us multiple big hits: “Last Dance” (Donna Summer), “Too Hot Ta Trot” (Commodores) and this title track by one-hit wonders Love & Kisses. TGIF never sounded so good.
10. “I Thank You” – Sam & Dave. You won’t find another thank-you song as soulful as this one. Released on the famed Stax record label, this became a top-ten pop and R&B song in 1968. It’s simple in its concept and its construction, with the famed Memphis horns punctuating throughout as Sam & Dave belt out their appreciation for some good old-fashioned lovin’. It is also likely the first song to implore listeners to engage in some “soul clapping,” you know, that clap on every half-beat that became the thing several years later.
9. “Gratitude” – Pete Philly & Perquisite. This is probably the song that is least familiar to ALL the readers of djrobblog. However, one listen will hopefully explain how this breezy, jazz-influenced hip-hop tune from 2005 made the list. Sometimes quality trumps familiarity, or as many of my friends would say, it doesn’t always matter what the song did on the charts. Okay, my friends, I agree, especially in this case. Listen to this one by the Dutch duo and enjoy!
8. “Thank You” – Dido. One of the most haunting “Thank You” songs on this list, Dido’s turn-of-the-millennium hit was featured on Eminem’s “Stan” and both tunes were big at about the same time in 2000/01. Remember the unlikely pairing of Slim Shady with Elton John at the 2001 Grammys? That was Elton singing Dido’s part on “Stan.” The term “stan” – now used to refer to overzealous (and often unreasonable) fans of celebrities – has since become a permanent part of American vernacular. All thanks to a plaintive “Thank You” by English singer Dido.
7. “I Want To Thank You” – Alicia Myers. Another song some of you may be unfamiliar with, this disco/soul gem is an R&B classic. It was one of the first songs that infused spiritually inspired lyrics with funk/disco to produce a hit. It’s clear Alicia is happy about a new man in her life, but she’s giving all thanks to the “Heavenly Father,” without Whom it couldn’t have happened.
6. “Thank U” – Alanis Morissette. Said to be inspired by an earlier trip to India, this introspective first single from Alanis’ second album revealed a vulnerable side like only she could. Alanis was mostly angst and anger on her first effort – 1995’s Jagged Little Pill – but with this 1998 tune (and its provocative video) she managed to turn frailty, terror and silence into virtues from which even the most broken person could grow. Thank U, Alanis.
5. “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” – Vince Guaraldi Trio. Okay, you might think that I’ve included this one simply because of the childhood memories and nostalgia that it evokes. But when I found it through my research and played it, I actually appreciated its musical qualities, something I didn’t necessarily focus on when I watched the Peanuts holiday special for which it was named so many eons ago. Hopefully, you’ll appreciate it, too…and maybe those childhood memories will also come flooding back as well.
4. “Thank You For Being A Friend” – Andrew Gold. You all know this song from its TV-theme remake by unknown singer Cynthia Fee, as popularized on the 1980s/90s sitcom, “The Golden Girls.” But the 1978 original wasn’t half-bad. It was Gold’s followup to his top-ten hit “Lonely Boy” (remember that one?), and almost became a top ten hit itself, peaking at #11. I know…you can’t separate images of Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia from the TV version, but try to when listening to this original. You’ll appreciate it more.
3. “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” – John Denver. This one is about as close to country as I come on this list, as the title suggests. However, this was a big pop hit for Denver in 1975. It celebrated the joys of simple living, a good home life and his music. I can certainly relate. “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” was one of four #1 pop singles that Denver had in an 18-month period, and then his chart success suddenly stopped as disco took over later in the decade. But his legacy lives on through this and many other classics.
2. “Be Thankful For What You Got” – William DeVaughn. “Diamond in the back, sun-roof top, digging the scene with a gangster lean, oo-hoo.” The “just be thankful” message in this song resonates today just as it did 41 years ago when it was a #1 R&B smash. Many often mistake this as being sung by Curtis Mayfield, or even a bigger stretch, Al Green. However, this one belonged to one-hit-wonder DeVaughn, who likely milked it for all the white-wall tires and TV antennas it was worth during the mid-1970s.
1. “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” – Sly & the Family Stone. Intentional misspelling aside, this is still one of the funkiest #1 pop hits in music history, and one that was clearly before its time…as evidenced by the many slap-bass guitar funk riffs it later inspired, or the songs that have since sampled it (Janet’s “Rhythm Nation” comes to mind). Sly Stone’s funky anthem was one of the first #1 songs of the 1970s, the unspoken decade of funk, and it ranks as the best “Thank You” song on this list.
But, as always, no djroblist is complete without including honorable mentions. So here are a few you might appreciate:
“Gratitude” – Earth, Wind & Fire. This feel-good song was the title track from EWF’s 1975 live album. It was one of four new studio songs that were included, along with “Singasong,” “Can’t Hide Love” and “Sunshine.”
“Thank You” – Led Zeppelin. From their second album, this appreciative track was overshadowed by their biggest chart single, “Whole Lotta Love” from the same album.
“Thank God It’s Friday” – R. Kelly. From his self-titled album, this smooth groove celebrated our favorite weekday, but also was an ode to Chicago’s step-dancing tradition, popularized by several Kelly songs of the era.
“Gratitude” – Byron Cage. A pretty good gospel tune from his Memoirs of a Worshipper album. An intact message with a pretty good song structure: chord and key changes that underscore a rousing vocal delivery.
“Thank You” – Jay Z. From his Blueprint 3 album, this is actually one of Jay Z’s superior tracks, although it was overshadowed by the album’s “Empire State of Mind.” Classic line: “hold your applause, this is your song not mine.”
“Dear Mama” – 2pac. Okay, there’s no thanks in the title, but this ode to mama and her eternal sacrifices included several “you are appreciated” lines. That’s enough for me.
“Three Times A Lady” – Commodores. Okay #2: this may be a bigger stretch, since it clearly doesn’t have a “thanks” in its title, but any song whose first lyrics are “thanks for the times that you’ve given me” deserves an honorable mention.
And that’s the list. Agree? Disagree? Remember, this is only one man’s opinion, so let me know what you think.
As always, “thank you” for all the love and support of djrobblog this year!
And have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!
Ok, I couldn’t resist…