don’t know about you guys, but I’m getting hungry. Usually when this happens I just trudge to the kitchen and whip up a snack that will make the nearest dietician cry in their sleep, but I’m not in the mood for self-destruction. No, I need a completely different kind of self-destruction through food. The kind that nearly everyone goes through each year by mean of gorging themselves on various foods and then taking a massive power nap while football casually plays out on their grandparent’s brand new TV. Yes, I think it is time for some thanks to be given out.
Now when it comes to combining Thanksgiving and music, a massive problem comes forth almost immediately. Thanksgiving has no good music. While Christmas and Halloween have clear sounds to them, the only thing close to music that’s related to Thanksgiving is the sounds of close family members screaming in each others faces about topics that are incredibly redundant and not necessary to argue about. And I don’t want to get that avant-garde just yet. However, with some clever loopholes, I think I have captured the sound of Thanksgiving with this playlist.
Underground – Tom Waits
But before my genius theming is revealed, let’s talk about what I’ve been listening to lately. I mean, it is MY tunes after all. And what better way to combine both what I’ve been listening to lately and my personality as a whole than with a song from an album that was created by a jazzy and bluesy singer-songwriter that was inspired by the music of one of the most avant-garde rock musicians in history.
“Underground” is the opening track to Tom Waits’s 7th studio album “Swordfishtrombones.” The album was quite the shift for Waits, as he ditched his normally blues and jazz stylings for something a little more, well, abstract. It was produced and recorded by Waits, and features instruments besides his usual piano and guitar. This includes bagpipes, marimbas, weird percussion, and instruments that were considered to be very obsolete in 1983. All of this combines to create a masterfully weird opener with its marching rhythm, bouncing marimba, baroque style electric guitar, and Tom Wait’s signature growl. It’s a fantastic beginning to a fantastic album.
Sliver – Nirvana
Alright, it’s theme time. Now when most of us think about family time during Thanksgiving, we like to think of a Norman Rockwell style get-together with fun times and cheery hearts. Yeah it usually isn’t like that. It’s really more like trying to not be super uncomfortable while your Trump supporting uncle and Hillary loving aunt yell at each other while you try to conversate with family members you barely know and only see twice a year. God, don’t you love dysfunction? And what better way to capture dysfunctional families than with a song about a whiny toddler and his grandparents.
“Sliver” was a single released by Nirvana for their compilation album “Incestcide.” The single depicts a young child who is staying with his grandparents while his parents go out, and has this massive temper tantrum that ends with him going to bed and waking up to see his mom. You can’t help but chuckle as the usually melodramatic Kurt Cobain screams about some whiny little kid while backed up by this energetic punk song. It’s wonderfully silly and fun and in general is just a Nirvana classic.
Once In A Lifetime – Talking Heads
Going back to that dysfunctional family thought, have you ever just let it sink in that you will be in your parent’s place one day? Yeah. You are going to be the one that has to deal with tiny little brats running around while you sit at your desk doing your taxes while you get emails from your boss about some dumb report that’s due tomorrow while you also have to get everything together for Thanksgiving where you have to see your in-laws that you while everything just goes to chaos and you just sit there and feel nothing but existential anguish from the stress and monotony. And in that moment, you may ask yourself, “How did I get here?”
“Once In A Lifetime” is the most famous song from the Talking Heads’ seminal album “Remain in Light.” The song’s lyrics tackle existential thoughts as David Byrne yells at you about how you may one day realize that you understand nothing about your life and none of it makes sense. And of course, these dreaded feeling are paired up with upbeat and poppy new wave instrumentation that is impossible not to smile and dance to while you slowly suffer internally and cry. All of that culminates into a post punk classic that will keep you questioning the nature of your reality.
Run to the Hills – Iron Maiden
Now, what would Thanksgiving be without a little bit of history? We all know the story of Thanksgiving. Back in the Pilgrim days, Pilgrims and Native Americans decided to have a nice feast to bring peace among those two cultures. It was a nice time. Then, afterward, Pilgrims gave the Native Americans blankets to keep warm in the winter. That lead to millions of them dying, as the blankets were purposely smeared with smallpox pus. Whoops.
“Run to the Hills” is a single from Iron Maiden’s third album, “The Number of the Beast.” The song details the conquest and destruction of the Native American population by European Settlers. It’s very uplifting, I know. But the song also is given an epic feel with it’s driving guitar riffage and overall headbanging sound. Let’s not forget the wonderful bass work supplied by the one and only Steve Harris. This song both gives you a headbanging joy ride, while also reminding you of the darkness of American history.
We’re Going to be Friends – The White Stripes
In the end, as much as I like to say that Thanksgiving is about yelling at your dysfunctional family and Native American genocide, which it kind of is, there is still more to in than that. Thanksgiving is about being thankful for your family and friends and all the wonderful things that have happened in your life. It’s about the joy and warmth that entails being so thankful and happy. And to me, that feeling of warmth can only be captured by one song.
“We’re Going to be Friends” is a lovely song from The White Stripes’ seminal album “White Blood Cells.” It is a simple song about little kids on their first day of school, which is funny because it’s one of my most cherished songs from my childhood. Anyways, this song features very minimal instrumentation, with simple acoustic guitar work and quiet vocals from Jack White and a simple kick drum pattern provided by Meg White. But all that simplicity comes together to create a wonderful and innocent song that would warm the heart of an incredibly edgy kid. Which it indeed has.