Photo: Erin Taylor;

After all the crap we’ve put ourselves through, daily grinding tirelessly like it was the middle ages, has led to this Thanksgiving moment – a few days off to kick back, relax, and melt away into oblivion. Fam and friends in tow, huddled around a cozy fireplace with a nice glass of whiskey. Or however your wholesome Rockwell holiday plays out. Enjoy it. Charlie Brown commercialism‘s on its heels – shopping, traffic jams, long lines, frumpy old ladies with sharp elbows, bitter weather waiting to freeze the joy right off your face, all of it threatening to stymie what you so rightfully deserve. Fear not though, compiled here are five lyrical jams, from Sly Stone pilgrim values to Tom Waits drunken poetics, that’ll help fight those discouraging moments and give life to the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

Stark Reality – ‘Comrades

Part of what makes Thanksgiving so great is that it’s an opportunity to get reacquainted with an old buddy, the one that knows virtually everything about you and yet by a miracle of god is still your friend. Those type of friendships are essential in maintaining our humanity. As part of a children’s album – a rework of songs written by Hoagy Carmichael – Stark Reality pays respect to that unshakable bond that helps transform friends into family: [LISTEN]


Sly and the Family Stone – ‘Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)

One of the knocks on Sly Stone was that he didn’t equate enough social or racial politics into his music. But what blind critics failed to see was that he didn’t need to talk about it, he lived and breathed equality, and it showed on stage with his band. It was his own makeshift family, and when he wasn’t snorting enough coke to kill a small horse he broke bread with all of them like a true pilgrim would: [LISTEN]

"Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)"

Common – ‘The Food

Thanksgiving without food is sacrilegious like Santa without a beard or Bert without a unibrow. It nourishes the mind, body and soul, and serves as a binding force – similar to the stuffing your Aunt makes that sort of resembles a mix of old carpet and cement. Common and Kanye take the analogy one step further and explain that when your soul is fed, you can come up with some pretty righteous fodder to live your life by: [LISTEN]

"The Food"

Tom Waits – ‘The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)

Every year at the annual Thanksgiving day party your uncle gets annihilated – to the point where all you can do is shake your head and take as many pictures as you can before he comes to. Tom Waits – who is pretty much every cool uncle wrapped into one – represents your dad’s other half, everything he would have been had he not gotten shacked up. He’s free in every way, and when he’s not busy face-planting in the garden and vomiting in your college graduation cap, he’s offering up some priceless morsels of wisdom: [LISTEN]

"The Piano Has Been Drinking"

William DeVaughn – ‘Be Thankful For What You’ve Got

To the original point, it’s easy to forget how good most of us have it – to want for not and be a phone call away from having dinner with someone who actually cares. Still there are people who are less fortunate, which makes it even more important to keep the yin and yang of your life flowing – to liberate yourself of worry and financial burden by being forever grateful for the things that you already have, a slice of life that William DeVaughn turned into the ultimate Thanksgiving day jam: [LISTEN]

"Be Thankful For What You've Got"