Songs Giving Thanks

“The First Thanksgiving” (1915), by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris (American painter, 1863-1930).

Several times in the past I have posted to mark Thanksgiving Day. Although we don’t celebrate it here I recognise that many of you who read my posts come from across the water, and it is my way of showing some respect for your culture and traditions. Last year’s post was For Thanksgiving Day and you can see in that a typical example of what I’ve been saying (not least because I have recycled some of the words over the years!). This year I thought I’d do something a little different to mark the day: I have posted a great deal of music this year and that is set to continue, so it struck me as a good idea to post a few songs on the theme of giving thanks. Only one of them is specifically about today, but the others mine a similar seam.

In this strange year, I guess that many celebrations will be different from what you usually do. A theme that runs through the day, and which I think is particularly appropriate in the blogging community, is friendship. We are all grateful for our friends, I think:

That could have been in my Tuesday Tunes series, as I’ve dedicated the two most recent posts to Seventies albums, and I bought the album that came from – All This And Heaven Too – at the time of its release in 1978. You may well recognise it as the theme tune from the long-running tv show The Golden Girls, although they used a cover version by Cindy Fee for that. If we are going to be thankful for anything on any day – not just today – friends and family top the list for me.

My next choice is very much a gift from English folk music to my American friends:

Fairport Convention were one of the two main leading lights in the development of the English folk-rock music movement, along with Steeleye Span. That clip is remarkably well-preserved, being fifty years old, but watching it takes me straight back to my youth: I was 17 then. The song was released as a single in September 1970: I bought it on the 1972 compilation album The History Of Fairport Convention, the first of many such albums in the band’s lifetime. They continue to this day, and guitarist Simon Nicol is still with them. The song was written by Dave Swarbrick, who takes lead vocal, and Richard Thompson, who provides the main harmony. Swarbrick is sadly no longer with us but Thompson is still producing wonderful music to this day.

My third song is also nothing to do with today, but is a heartfelt ode to being thankful for love:

You may recall that I included this song in my Tuesday Tunes 31 post, but it is so good that I just had to share it again! If you want to know what I said, do please follow the link back to that post. For today, all I want to say is that, as an expression of love, and of being grateful that someone is in your life, you can’t really do any better than that.

My final song for today is the one I promised you that is actually about Thanksgiving Day:

If you followed the link back to last year’s post you will know that I also shared this song then. I know there are other songs by American singers about today, but anything by Mary Chapin Carpenter is going to be high on my list. The warmth and beauty of her voice and her lyrics give me comfort, and the video that someone has made for this song is a perfect fit. You can find this one on MCC’s 2008 album Come Darkness, Come Light, a fabulous collection of songs for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year: highly recommended, as is the lovely version she put up on YouTube a few days ago – the latest episode in the Songs From Home series that she has been running this year.

Wherever you are, if you are celebrating today I send you my best wishes for a wonderful day, hopefully spent in the company of those you love. In these pandemic days, it isn’t easy to get together with loved ones, but I hope you have managed to find a safe and officially-approved way of doing so. Enjoy your special day.

For Thanksgiving Day

I’ve taken to marking Thanksgiving Day each year, and even though some of you may recall previous posts I thought it worth doing so again.

“The First Thanksgiving” (1915), by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris (American painter, 1863-1930).

Even from 3,000 miles away it hasn’t escaped our notice that today is Thanksgiving Day. I watch a lot of American TV shows, many of which – like NCIS – have Thanksgiving specials, and until the past few years I’d always thought of Thanksgiving Day as being something celebrated only in the USA. I was a little surprised, therefore, to find both that is celebrated in several countries and that its roots actually go back to post-Reformation England, no doubt prompted by the Pilgrim Fathers’ journey across the pond on the Mayflower. This is in no way to deny the day its American roots, though – it seems that celebrations have taken place in some places there since the late 16th century. I’ll admit to having to consult Google and Wikipedia for that!

Basically, the day is to give thanks for a good harvest, before the onset of winter. In the UK this is very much a church thing, with Harvest Festival services in late September, but these have not developed into a fully blown day of celebration – we in the UK are really deprived when it comes to public holidays! It was first set in statute in the USA by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, and has been celebrated on the 4th Thursday in November since President Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress to that effect, in 1941. It is a major holiday in the US, not just the commercial aspects but as a day of family celebration.

Turkey is the traditional meal for Thanksgiving Day, as you can see from the table set here. There are parades, NFL games and a host of other celebrations too, and the day marks the start of a long weekend break, as well as being the unofficial start of the Christmas season. A couple of days ago there was the weird (to non-Americans) spectacle of the Presidential pardon for turkeys. I’ve never understood what turkeys can have done that would be so bad as to require that level of pardon, so maybe an American reader can enlighten me please? I just hope that this year’s recipients of the pardon don’t subsequently turn out to have links to Russia, or to have been making phone calls to the Ukraine.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

I read in the paper the other day that one of those surveys we often hear about had concluded that one in six would be celebrating the day here in the UK. Does that mean there are 10m Americans living here or are we Brits succumbing to yet another US import? Sorry, guys, I’m afraid it isn’t a tradition that I’ll be adopting, but I hope you all enjoy your big day. Here’s a beautiful, special something from me, for you, as you celebrate: