On Thanksgiving Day 1981, I was a little baby disc jockey at KDTH in Dubuque, Iowa. My show was nearly over when a listener called to ask why I hadn’t played any Thanksgiving songs yet that morning. It was not a playful query. The tone of her voice indicated that her gorge had been rising with every non-Thanksgiving song I played. So maybe it wasn’t the most tactful thing I could have said when I replied, “Ma’am, if you can think of one, I’d be happy to play it.”
In the years since, I've developed a list, in case she calls back, and here are a few of them.
Although I'm not a church person anymore, I still know my way around the Methodist Hymnal. For Thanksgiving, one could choose “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” or “For the Beauty of the Earth” or “We Gather Together” or even the Doxology. (I am guessing this is what my caller was asking for, unless maybe she wanted “Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother’s House We Go,” in which case she shoulda said so.)
There's "Thanksgiving" by George Winston, the opening track on his landmark album December. It's an instrumental that can paint numerous pictures depending on the frame of mind you’re in: a quiet country road with harvest bounty in the adjoining fields, the last mile of a long and wearying journey home, or the quiet contemplation of how fortunate you are to have what you have. "Celebrate Me Home" by Kenny Loggins does the same kind of thing, although in an entirely different way.
You're likely to hear both George Winston and Kenny Loggins on the Magic 98 Thanksgiving Special this year. You probably won't hear "Thank You (Falletin Me Be Mice Elf Agin)" by Sly and the Family Stone–but why not? Part of reaching our fullest potential as human beings involves being true to our true selves, whatever they are. Should we not be grateful to someone who permits us to achieve that potential?
OK, that's a joke, but only a little one. Hope you and yours have a happy Thanksgiving this year.