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What’s the Best Playlist for Thanksgiving This Year?

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What’s the best music playlist to listen to on Thanksgiving this year, with songs that invoke all the feels of this holiday seasonFood, family, friends, fall, football and frenetic activity are all on tap. We have created a perfect playlist of music for Thanksgiving. Find it on Spotify here. Press play. And get this holiday started.

What’s the best playlist for Thanksgiving this year?

Thanksgiving is back! After a long dark stretch of quarantines, social distancing and deferred travel, we finally get to reunite our extended families and friends around the table for the comforting pleasures of too dry turkey and too many pies.

After all that social-distancing, we’re so eager for intimacy and connection that we’re even willing to endure arguing with uncles and random cousins over politics. Actually, don’t quote me on that.

We expect that the gatherings will be extra boisterous this year. And as always, there is much to be thankful for. Thanksgiving can be such a revelatory experience – a chance to take in all the ways we count on one another and care for each other.

The best playlist music and songs that feel like Thanksgiving.
The best playlist music and songs that feel like Thanksgiving.

the perfect playlist of music for Thanksgiving

So, what makes for the right soundtrack for a day filled with such meaning? And so potentially fraught with emotional minefields?

We’ve created a Thanksgiving playlist of two hours of songs about home, family, friendship and of course, gratitude.

From traditional standards by the greats: Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Otis Redding. To the hippie-influenced tunes of peace and love from the 70’s. And of course, some contemporary feel-good hits from Jack Johnson, Norah Jones, Bruno Mars and Maroon 5.

The best playlist music and songs that feel like Thanksgiving.

Whether you’re prepping the secret family stuffing recipe the night before and reminiscing about your grandparents or shoving things in closets during that frenzied half hour before everyone arrives, this playlist of will help you realize that we’re all sharing the same experience. And it’s totally worth it.

Our playlist of music that feels like Thanksgiving

1. poolside- harvest moon

We start off the playlist with this gorgeous remix of Neil Young’s ode to the wisdom, serenity and love to be found in middle age. If you’re prepping dinner with your spouse, turn up the volume and we promise it will cut down the bickering by half.

2. otis redding- i want to thank you

Keep the good vibes going: “I want to thank you for being so nice now/ I want to thank you for giving me my pride/ Sweet kisses too/ And everything you do.

3. natalie merchant – so kind and generous

Merchant explained in a VH1 Storytellers special that she wanted to write a song “that had an extremely universal, simple sentiment. And just gratitude, that’s all this song is about and really I feel like I accomplished my mission: simple, to the point.”

The best playlist music and songs that feel like Thanksgiving.

4. the white stripes- we’re going to be friends

It doesn’t get more sweet and innocent than this song about the beginnings of a childhood friendship.

5. rosemary clooney- come on-a my house

This jaunty folk song has that special vintage quality that makes us want to dance around the kitchen in a frilly apron, waving around a rolling pin.

6. bruce springsteen – my hometown

Going back home can often be complicated. Springsteen’s introspective lyrics nail the uneasy sentiment of seeing the ways your hometown has and hasn’t changed with the times.

the best playlist of music and songs that feel like Thanksgiving.
The best playlist music and songs that feel like Thanksgiving.

7. nico- these days

We love Nico’s cover of Jackson Browne’s sad song of regret. It makes us feel all the feels- from the relationships we’ve lost to those we could still appreciate more.

8. general public- tenderness

Seems like without tenderness there’s something missing. Where is the tenderness?” Maybe, just maybe, we can find room to listen to the views across the aisle…er, dinner table for fifteen minutes. Or five. We can definitely do five.

9. wyclef jean- gone til november

People come and people go. But, in the best of times, November is for reunions.

The best playlist music and songs that feel like Thanksgiving.
The best playlist music and songs that feel like Thanksgiving.

10. sly & the family stone – everyday people

This ’60’s rock and soul hit’s message of peace and equality resonates as deeply as ever. We’re all everyday people.

11. van morrison – everyone

We put this song on the playlist last year for its sunny, optimistic message of coming together. Listening to it again this year has even more special meaning: “We shall walk again all along down the lane/ Down the avenue just like we used to/ With our heads so high smile at passers by.

12. supertramp- take the long way home

We all have years where we kind of want to take the long, winding way home. And that’s OK.

What to listen to for Thanksgiving this year.
What to listen to for Thanksgiving this year.

13. bing crosby- i’ve got plenty to be thankful for

Bing Crosby’s smooth vocals and showtune orchestrations from a bygone era is the ultimate Thanksgiving theme song.

14. stevie wonder- for once in my life

This enduring composition has been covered by no less than 100 artists. But Stevie Wonder’s exuberant vocals make this one our favorite.

15. tribe called quest- can i kick it?

The part of Thanksgiving we love the most? After the food is eaten and the dishes are put away, and everyone is just lounging around, watching a movie, and talking about which pie they’re going to eat for breakfast the next morning! This laid-back song captures that exact vibe.

The best playlist music and songs that feel like Thanksgiving.

16. sheryl crow- everyday is a winding road

Equal parts whimsical and reflective, Sheryl Crow’s ’90’s hit about enjoying the journey works for the long road trip going over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house, as well as life.

17. madness- our house

This ’80’s pop song depicts the interior life of a working class family in London. It feels familiar and chaotic with the comings and goings. And we’re feeling homesick already.

18. david gray- babylon

“Turning back for home/ You know I’m feeling so alone/ I can’t believe/ Climbing on the stair/ I turn around to see you smiling there/ In front of me.” This feeling! May we all be so lucky on Thanksgiving.

What to listen to for Thanksgiving this year.
What to listen to for Thanksgiving this year.

19. bob dylan- if not for you

This simple love song could be dedicated to so many special people in your life. “Without your love, I’d be nowhere at all.”

20. diddy-dirty money ft. skylar gray- coming home

Themes of forgiveness ring loud and clear in this song about a long-awaited homecoming from Sean Combs and a duo of singer-songwriter and dancers Dawn Richard and Kalenna Harper.

21. r.e.m- shiny happy people

Maybe it’s a bit on the nose but we hope this utterly joyful song comes on as the last of the guests are putting away their coats and gathering for pre-dinner drinks in the kitchen and living room.

What to listen to for Thanksgiving this year.
What to listen to for Thanksgiving this year.

22. jack johnson- better together

Jack Johnson delivers an intimate, acoustic song that just feels like a warm hug.

23. the rembrandts- I’ll be there for you

This unforgettable Friends theme song is a must-have if you’re hosting a Friendsgiving. They may groan when the intro starts, but you know everyone knows the words. So sing along!

24. bob marley- give thanks & praises

A reggae-style hymn for all the believers out there – whether it’s Rastafari, God, or Mother Earth.

What to listen to for Thanksgiving this year.

25. billie holiday- autumn in new york

Glittering crowds and shimmering clouds in canyons of steel/ They’re making me feel I’m home.” This is the song that makes any New Yorker fall in love with their city again and again.

26. kenny loggins- celebrate me home

We don’t hear this song very much anymore. But whenever we do, it gives us the warm and fuzzies.

27. bruno mars- count on me

Songs about platonic friendships have always been rare compared to songs about romantic love. This comforting and uplifting song is one of the best.

What to listen to for Thanksgiving this year.

28. maroon 5- memories

Thanksgiving and the impending holiday season can be rough, even for the most blessed amongst us. So here’s a “toast to the ones that we lost on the way.”

29. john legend- ordinary people

We love this gentle and soulful reminder that we’re all just ordinary people, experiencing the ups and downs of life together.

30. sister sledge- we are family

I mean, you can’t have a Thanksgiving playlist and exclude this iconic number. Sisters or not, this expression of solidarity applies to all members of the family.

What to listen to for Thanksgiving this year.

31. edward sharpe & the magnetic zeros- home

“Home is wherever I’m with you.” So important to remember this year, even if a traditional Thanksgiving isn’t in the cards.

32. louis armstrong- what a wonderful world

To say that the year has been challenging is surely an understatement. This ode to life’s simple pleasures is an invitation to appreciate and celebrate all that’s good in the world.

33. the kinks- this time tomorrow

A Thanksgiving reunion also comes with its good-byes. But this song from the English rock band, The Kinks, manages to make the bittersweet optimistic and full of possibility.

34. norah jones- the long day is over

Success! The turkey was juicy and you’ve got a clean house. It’s time to slip into your comfiest pajamas by the fire.

35. stealers wheel- stuck in the middle with you

Sometimes you have to have a sense of humor about it all: “Clowns to the left of me. Jokers to the right. Here I am stuck in the middle with you.”

36. florence and the machine- you’ve got the love

You can’t help but be transported from the dinner table to the dance floor with this soaring cover by the flame-haired Florence Welch.

37. the beach boys- god only knows

Paul McCartney has called this song “the greatest song ever written.” It sounds like a simple ditty but there’s a tenderness and sweetness that’s instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever loved or been loved.

What’s the Best Playlist for Thanksgiving This Year?

 

That’s it – our suggestions on the best playlist with the perfect music for Thanksgiving this year. Did we miss any of your favorites? Happy Turkey Day, all!

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