Right around this time of year, Christmas music starts permeating pretty much every radio and department store speaker system. Though it’s always nice to hear the sounds of the season, many times November’s top holiday (that would be Thanksgiving for those who may already have the tree up) gets left in the dust, along with its message of expressing gratitude in the wake of Black Friday sales announcements. That’s why GMC compiled this special list of songs to celebrate this often overshadowed holiday, to inspire gratitude for all our blessings—love, health, shelter, freedom, faith, family, forgiveness and so much more. Take a glance through these 10 top tunes and let us know what lyrics you identify with most, as sung by the uplifting likes of everyone from Jonny Lang to Mavis Staples, Keith Urban and Michael English.
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1. Jonny Lang’s “Thankful”
Modern day blues great Jonny Lang hits the spirit of the holiday on the head with a little help from famous friend Michael McDonald and a jubilant gospel choir. The guitar slinger/soulful vocalist offers plenty of praises to God for His abundant blessings, even in the midst of storms as challenging as illness, loss, single parenting and unemployment.
2. Delirious’ “Thank You For Saving Me”
More than merely offering gratitude for worldly blessings, Delirious turns its thanks towards salvation with this gripping modern worship ballad. The British rockers offer a contemplative chorus with emotional lines like “Thank You for saving me, what can I say?/ You are my everything, I will sing Your praise/ You took my sin and shame/ A sinner called by name/ Great is the Lord.”
3. Keith Urban’s “Thankful”
Uplifting country great Keith Urban is no stranger to second chances, reclaiming faith as he battled substance abuse and coming out stronger than ever before. Though he doesn’t specifically address those issues throughout “Thankful” the lyric says, “and I thank God for grace and mercy.” Who can’t relate to that? He’s also clearly grateful for the healthy marriage he shares with fellow superstar Nicole Kidman.
4. Mavis Staples’ “I Wanna Thank You”
Considering she was one of the original civil rights activists alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., Mavis Staples is nothing short of a musical and political legend. She howls with authenticity on this soulful gospel track that boldly gives glory to God for everything from the air that she breathes to her hands and her feet, insisting in the end “if it wasn’t for Your giving, nothing would be mine.”
5. Michael English’s “Don’t Think I’m Not Thankful”
After stepping away from the Christian music world in the heat of scandal, Michael English didn’t just get his spiritual life in order, but he started a new family as well. Now completely restored from past indiscretions, the contemporary pop powerhouse alludes to his testimony through this tear-jerking tune that gives credit to Christ for the spiritual sharpening he’s experienced. For anyone who feels he or she has really messed up, this song will add new meaning to the holiday.
6. Don Henley’s “My Thanksgiving”
This long time Eagles co-singer and solo superstar is known for countless heart-wrenching ballads, and though “My Thanksgiving” wasn’t a major hit, it’s had significant impact on those in the know. Centered around asking a friend for forgiveness, the tune celebrates mending fences and growing introspective with age as evidenced with lines like: “Too many blessings, too little appreciation” and “For every breath, for every day of living/This is my Thanksgiving.” Got someone you need to forgive? Or someone you need to ask forgiveness from? This song’s for you.
7. Mary Mary’s “Thankful”
Not to be confused with the aforementioned Jonny Lang track bearing the same title, sister act Mary Mary turned in a modern gospel groove to usher in the sentiments of this season. Perhaps the colorful, beat-infused chorus summarizes their tribute to the Creator the best: “Lord I’m thankful for my blessings/Everything you gave/ Times when danger was around me/My life Lord you saved.”
8. Mariah Carey’s “Thank God I Found You”
During the pop diva’s early years, she frequently referenced the Lord in songs and interviews, with this romantic ballad putting God at the center of a relationship. Now married with twins, she’s seen those long lost lyrics come to fruition, giving people in love another reason to celebrate by being thankful.
9. Ray Davies’ “Thanksgiving Day”
The title couldn’t be any more appropriate, though instead of focusing on reasons to be thankful, the former front man for British Invasion favorites The Kinks interjects some humor into the occasion. He addresses the typical family gathering with satire, though also shares a few pensive tidbits, like reminding older generations to spread wisdom to their younger relatives. If you’re family gathering induces more tension than love and goodwill, this could be the picker-upper to get you through.
10. All Star United’s “Thank You Goodnight”
And when you’re all filled up with turkey, stuffing and all the traditional feast fixings, there’s no better cool down tune than this long lost All Star United gem. The simple acoustic ballad can serve as an apt summary of the day thanks to this clever chorus: “Thank You, goodnight/All the love that You gave/Has taken me somewhere good.”