Top 10 Thanksgiving Songs

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Mary Chapin Carpenter - "Thanksgiving Song" (2008)

Mary Chapin Carpenter Come Darkness Come Light
Mary Chapin Carpenter - Come Darkness Come Light. Courtesy Zoe

In 2008, country-folk artist Mary Chapin Carpenter released her first holiday album Come Darkness, Come Light. It is billed as a Christmas album, but it also includes "Thanksgiving Song" written by the artist specifically for the Thanksgiving holiday. The album received strong positive reviews and broke into the top 10 on the holiday album chart. Mary Chapin Carpenter has reached the top 10 on the country album chart eight times. She has also won five Grammy Awards including the 1995 award for Best Country Album with Stones In the Road.


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Natalie Merchant - "Kind and Generous" (1998)

Natalie Merchant Kind and Generous
Natalie Merchant - "Kind and Generous". Courtesy Elektra

The words of Natalie Merchant's "Kind and Generous" demonstrate an attitude of thankfulness for everything a special person has given of themselves. The song was released as the first single from the artist's second album Ophelia. It reached the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 and went all the way to #3 at adult pop radio. It was one of four consecutive Natalie Merchant solo singles to reach the top 10 on the adult pop radio chart. Ophelia is her only top 10 charting album.

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Adam Sandler - "The Thanksgiving Song" (1993)

Adam Sandler They're All Gonna Laugh At You!
Adam Sandler - They're All Gonna Laugh At You!. Courtesy Warner Bros.

After enjoying success as a cast member of Saturday Night Live, comedian Adam Sandler released his first album They're All Gonna Laugh At You. It included his first holiday classic "The Thanksgiving Song." The song was first performed as part of the Saturday Night Live weekly news parody Weekend Update. In the same pattern as his later "The Chanukkah Song," this holiday classic riffs on a wide variety of pop culture topics from Betty Grable to Sammy Davis, Jr. The version of "The Thanksgiving Song" released on Adam Sandler's album was recorded live at The Strand in Redondo Beach, California. "The Thanksgiving Song" reached #40 on the adult pop radio chart in 1997.


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Louis Armstrong - "What a Wonderful World" (1968)

Louis Armstrong What a Wonderful World
Louis Armstrong - "What a Wonderful World". Courtesy MCA

"What a Wonderful World" was originally written in the 1960s as a soothing counterpart to the racial and political strife of the era. It works equally well today as a celebration of our world and a first step toward giving thanks. Jazz legend Louis Armstrong recorded the song in 1967. Initially it was not a hit in the US, but it climbed all the way to #1 in the UK. However, when "What a Wonderful World" was included in the soundtrack for the hit film Good Morning, Vietnam in 1988, it climbed into the pop top 40.

In recent decades, "What a Wonderful World" has been recognized as a contemporary pop standard. It has sold more than two million digital copies even though the recording itself is nearly fifty years old. A wide range of artists have covered the song including Rod Stewart and reggae artist Ziggy Marley.

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Dido - "Thank You" (2000)

Dido Thank You
Dido - "Thank You". Courtesy BMG

British singer-songwriter Dido Armstrong records under the mononym Dido. "Thank You" is a single from her debut album No Angel. It is probably best known now for being sampled in Eminem's song "Stan." However, on its own, the song reached #3 on the US pop chart becoming Dido's breakthrough hit. The touching lyrics were written as a tribute to Dido's then boyfriend Bob Page. When they later broke up, she wrote the hit single "White Flag." Dido went on to have more top 40 pop hits in the UK, but she failed to return to the top 40 in the US after "White Flag."

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Natalie Cole - "Be Thankful" (1977)

Natalie Cole Thankful
Natalie Cole - Thankful. Courtesy One Way

Singer Natalie Cole had just reached the top 10 on the album chart for the first time in 1977 with Unpredictable when she followed it with the album Thankful late in the same year.  It included the top 10 pop hit single "Our Love" as well as the upbeat "Be Thankful" which encourages everyone to be thankful for what they have.

In a long distinguished career Natalie Cole hit the top 20 on the album chart seven times. She also reached the top 10 on the pop singles chart five times. She earned 20 Grammy Award nominations and won the 1976 award for Best New Artist. She also shared Album of the Year and Record of the Year in 1992 with her late father Nat King Cole.


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ABBA - "Thank You For the Music" (1978)

ABBA Thank You For the Music
ABBA - "Thank You For the Music". Courtesy Epic

"Thank You For the Music" was first included on ABBA: The Album in 1977. However, it was not released as an official ABBA single until 1983 as the title song for the compilation album Thank You For the Music. It was not a major pop hit at the time, but it has become a favorite among fans through the years. The song inspires a spirit of thankfulness which can be expanded far beyond simply music. "Thank You For the Music" has been covered by a wide range of artists including the Carpenters.

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Sister Sledge - "We Are Family" (1979)

Sister Sledge We Are Family
Sister Sledge - "We Are Family". Courtesy Cotillion

"We Are Family" is the first song written by disco legends Nile Rodgers and Bernie Edwards for an act other than their own group Chic. "We Are Family" was offered to the sister group Sister Sledge as an experiment in the producer / songwriters creating productions for other artists. The result was a massive smash hit. It was actually released after another Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards record for the trio "He's the Greatest Dancer" reached the pop top 10. "We Are Family" went all the way to #2 and became a disco classic. The song's celebration of the value of family is perfect for family gatherings at Thanksgiving.

"We Are Family" was adopted by the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team on their way to winning the World Series. A cover of "We Are Family" by the punk group Babes In Toyland reached #22 on the dance chart in 1995.

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Cheryl Pepsii Riley - "Thanks For My Child" (1988)

Cheryl Pepsii Riley Thanks For My Child
Cheryl Pepsii Riley - "Thanks For My Child". Courtesy Columbia

Gospel and R&B singer Cheryl Pepsii Riley broke into the mainstream pop charts with her debut single "Thanks For My Child." The song was written by Full Force. She earlier had turned down another Full Force song "I Wonder If I Take You Home" which became a major hit for Lisa Lisa with Cult Jam. Full Force collaborated with Lisa Lisa on multiple hits and helped Samantha Fox reach stardom with her singles "Naughty Girls Need Love Too" and "I Wanna Have Some Fun." 

"Thanks For My Child" details the love and attitude of thankfulness for the children in our lives. The song went all the way to #1 on the R&B chart and broke into the pop top 40. Cheryl Pepsii Riley has appeared in a wide range of Tyler Perry's stage and film productions.

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Kelly Clarkson - "Thankful" (2003)

Kelly Clarkson Thankful
Kelly Clarkson - Thankful. Courtesy RCA

In 2002 Kelly Clarkson became the winner of the first season of the legendary singing competition show, American Idol. In April 2003 she released her debut album titled Thankful. The title song was co-written with R&B legend Babyface. The song has a strong R&B feel and celebrates special people in one's life. The album Thankful hit #1 on the US album chart and has sold more than 2.5 million copies. It includes the top 10 pop hit singles "A Moment Like This" and "Miss Independent."

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