Yes, you need a playlist of Thanksgiving songs! Regardless of what the holiday looks like for you this year, there are still ways to feel gratitude for all the blessings in your life over wine, cornbread, and pumpkin pie. Maybe you’re flying solo this year, planning a virtual dinner party over Zoom, or hosting a gathering with all of your loved ones—however you’re celebrating, there’s no better way to get into the spirit than with a good soundtrack of Thanksgiving music.
Curious just how many songs actually exist about turkey and mashed potatoes? Turns out not a whole lot. While songs about Thanksgiving are few and far between, there are plenty of tunes with lyrics about giving thanks and expressing gratitude for those who make the world, and our lives in it, a better place. And isn’t that what the holiday is all about?
So we rounded up 45 of the best Thanksgiving songs, below, to help you get into the mood. (And after the big meal, you can wind down with our picks of the best Thanksgiving movies.)
From radio hits that’ll make you want to get up and dance to lesser-known tracks that might make you tear up, these songs will be the soundtrack to your Turkey Day celebrations for years to come.
1. “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge
If you can’t get enough of your sisters—they’re simply the best, right?—throw on this anthem by legendary disco group Sister Sledge. The upbeat tempo and empowering lyrics proudly proclaiming the unbreakable bond of sisterhood never fail to get us up and moving.
2. “I Want To Thank You” by Otis Redding
This romantic tune by Redding is all about letting your beau know just how much they mean to you. Sometimes the best way to show your appreciation for the one who puts a smile on your face everyday is to say (or sing) a simple thank you.
3. “Give Thanks and Praises” by Bob Marley and the Wailers
This laid-back song by Bob Marley and the Wailers puts our minds at ease and sweetly calls on us to remember that even when things get tough, there is always one (or many) that we can turn to for comfort. It’s the perfect Thanksgiving dinner music.
4. “The Thanksgiving Song” by Adam Sandler
A parody? Perhaps, but little did Sandler know that his lighthearted song about loving to eat turkey “because it’s good” would become a holiday classic that we return to year after year. You can’t have a Thanksgiving playlist without this one.
5. “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” by Vince Guaraldi Sextet
Ah, the sound of childhood. Charlie Brown always had a lesson or two about coming together and being there for your friends, and the Thanksgiving special was no different. Play the theme song to get a dose of feel-good nostalgia.
6. “I Could Not Ask for More” by Sara Evans
Thanksgiving is about feeling grateful for the things we have that really matter, like family and friends. Evans reminds us that those are the moments that leave behind memories that last a lifetime.
7. “Stuffy Turkey” by Thelonious Monk
This jazzy, colorful melody by Monk makes you feel as good as a stuffed turkey tastes on an evening night shared with your closest loved ones.
8. “Mashed Potato Time” by Dee Dee Sharp
While Sharp is technically talking about a new dance, her lyrics “it’s the latest, it’s the greatest” perfectly express how we feel about our favorite starch for the holidays. If you want to bring back the moves Sharp immortalized and potentially kickstart the latest dance craze on TikTok, be our guest.
9. “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
You couldn’t go anywhere in 2009 without catching a case of homesickness thanks to Sharpe’s single “Home,” which was a constant feature on the airwaves. Feel free to blast this track as you make your way back to your loved ones as soon as you’re able.
10. “Thank You Friends” by Big Star
Family looks different for everyone, and sometimes your fam is your best group of friends who have your back no matter what. Dedicate this track by Big Star to your ride-or-dies this Friendsgiving.
11. “Cooking Up Something Good” by Mac DeMarco
Leave it to DeMarco to create the chillest track for that moment when you catch the first whiff of food coming out of the kitchen while prepping for Thanksgiving dinner. You can’t see or taste it yet, but you know it’s going to be real good.
12. “Pass The Peas” by The JB’s
Sometimes you have to politely nudge those family members who like to hog the good stuff to pass it along, à la the James Brown band in this funky track.
13. “Autumn in New York” by Billie Holiday
There’s nothing like a New York autumn—the leaves begin to turn as the city slows down in preparation for shorter days and brisk nights. It “lifts you up when you’re let down,” Holiday croons, and makes you pause to appreciate and give thanks for what you have.
14. “Thank You” by Dido
Dido can’t keep the small off of her face in one of her greatest hits, “Thank You.” Funny how love works. Whether it’s a romantic partner or your family, knowing that you have someone waiting for you on the other side makes even the hardest moments feel not so bad.
15. “Ode to My Family” by The Cranberries
For the mothers and fathers who raised, supported, and continue to uplift us even through these trying times, this song by The Cranberries is the perfect song to dedicate when the time comes for the family to gather around.
16. “Thursday Girl” by Mitski
For many, Thanksgiving dinner with our family and friends is a moment for us to reflect on who we are and where we come from. “Thursday Girl” by Mitski perfectly encapsulates that moment of returning to your true self.
17. “Thank U” by Alanis Morissette
Might not seem as bold a gesture as standing naked in the middle of the streets like Morissette, but thanking the good and the bad experiences for helping to shape us can feel like it. It’s liberating and a great reminder during a time where we have to try to see the positives, even in the mess.
18. “Harvest Moon” by Neil Young
Young’s “Harvest Moon” is for that special someone you want to spend the night dancing away with, long after the family has gone to bed full and happy.
19. “Home” by Michael Bublé
In what might be Bublé’s breakout hit, “Home” is about longing for your loved ones when you can’t easily see them. It’s okay to feel a little sad about how Thanksgiving will look this year but, as the last lyrics, “it’ll all be all right” remind us, soon you’ll be able to return home.
20. “Thankful” by Kelly Clarkson
“Thankful” by Clarkson is the track for those who want to show gratitude to the people who know them as well as they know themselves through pop music. They create the home we need where we don’t have to explain anything and can just be.
21. “It’s Thanksgiving” by Nicole Westbrook
A teenage Westbrook gave us the euro-pop Thanksgiving crossover we are forever grateful for. This is one of those songs that get stuck on loop in your head—you’ve been warned.
22. “Be Thankful for What You Got” by Williams DeVaughn
It’s okay to want it all, but do you really need it? DeVaughn knew that the material possessions don’t define the person—it’s what you already have, like the family and friends that come together to support and appreciate each other, that money can’t buy.
23. “Coming Home” by Leon Bridges
This is for that moment when you’ve set the table for your Thanksgiving gathering, and you can’t help but celebrate that you’ll soon get to see all your loved ones’ faces. Bridges’ deep vocals make us want to turn the record player on in anticipation.
24. “Tom Turkey” by Bob Dylan
This unreleased instrumental by Bob Dylan immediately calls to mind all the turkey chase videos that seem to pop up on our feeds as we near Thanksgiving Day. No complaints here, as they offer a very welcomed distraction.
25. “Thankful n’ Thoughtful” by Sly & the Family Stone
“You gotta be thankful and thoughtful,” Sly tells us, and truer words can’t be said. Even if you can’t celebrate Thanksgiving with closed ones this year, it’s a blessing to be able to connect in new and innovative ways.
26. “Nicotine & Gravy” by Beck
We definitely wouldn’t advise mixing nicotine with your dressing, but this quirky song by Beck is one way to mix up your Thanksgiving soundtrack.
27. “Thanksgiving Song” by Mary Chapin Carpenter
The “Thanksgiving Song” may be featured on a Christmas album, but the values Carpenter sings about couldn’t be a better fit for a holiday that is all about coming together to eat delicious food prepared with love.
28. “Happy” by Pharrell
Sometimes you have to listen to the right song to get you into the mood to celebrate. “Happy” by Pharrell is a full-on rallying call to start experiencing joy.
29. “Gratitude” by Earth, Wind & Fire
We can always count on Earth, Wind & Fire to bring the good jams with an endearing message. “Gratitude” asks for peace of mind and the opening our hearts up to love—let’s all tap into this energy as we near the 26th (and hold on to it through the new year).
30. “Mama, I’m Coming Home” by Ozzy Osbourne
Osbourne wrote this song about giving up the drugs and alcohol for his partner, Sharon. Like home, your significant other is there when you’ve lost your way.
31. “That’s What Friends Are For” by Dionne Warwick
Some of the greatest musicians of our time—Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder—came together to make this powerhouse cover about the deep bonds of friendship to raise funds for AIDS research. It’s the perfect song for a remote karaoke party with the people who pick you up at your lowest moments.
32. “Family Reunion” by the O’Jays
Not only is Thanksgiving a time to reflect on ourselves, it’s also prime time to digest what is going on in the world. The O’Jays know that it can be easy to get quickly swept up in the madness and forget to take a break and process. This Thanksgiving, let’s take all the time we need to unpack in the comfort of those who make us feel seen and heard.
33. “Home Sweet Home” by Mötley Crüe
The crew came through with a very different sound for “Home Sweet Home.” Humming and sweet piano melodies come together for a slowed-down song that celebrates the journey back to the home where you belong.
34. “My Hometown” by Bruce Springsteen
Home isn’t always perfect, which Springsteen reminds us, but it’s still the place where we come from. There’s a history and legacy there that have played a part in building our identities, one we can’t discard, and it’s up to us to make it into the best version we know it can be.
35. “Thankful” by Josh Groban
This is another Christmas-meets-Thanksgiving track, and it’s courtesy of Josh Groban. He beautifully sings about looking for the truth and light even on the days when it’s hard to feel optimistic.
36. “Thank You” by Kehlani
Nobody’s perfect, and we all have our moments when we could have be a better daughter, a better friend, and a better partner. That’s just being human. This season is all about acknowledging our growth, and this 2017 track by Kehlani has all the right words for thanking those who are more than happy to stay along for the ride.
37. “Home” by Phillip Phillips
“Home” became a best-selling single for the American Idol winner, and it’s not hard to tell why. Phillips, who won season 11, sings about not losing hope despite the uncertainty of what lies ahead. We’ll definitely be playing this on repeat as we unite with family.
38. “Thanksgiving Day” by Ray Davies
With Thanksgiving being one of the few holidays where the whole family is able to unite, traditions and long-standing routines run heavy. There’s something beautiful about knowing what to expect—knowing who will take care of the greens, and who is strictly relegated to cranberry sauce duty—in a time where we have way more questions than ever.
39. “I Can’t Help Myself” by Four Tops
You’re literally stuffed, but that doesn’t stop you from grabbing another slice of pecan pie. This is your time to indulge, so hum along to this Four Tops hit as you add pie onto the plate and shimmy back to your spot on the couch.
40. “Fortunate” by Maxwell
The world truly does seem magical when you’re spending time with the ones you love. This Thanksgiving, we’ll make sure all those we hold dear know that “just as sure as the sky is blue,” we feel eternally blessed for having them in our lives.
41. “Like Sugar” by Matchbox Twenty
“I’m starting to want you, more than I want to. This ain’t my finest hour. There’s something about you, that I could get into.” Okay, Matchbox Twenty completely nailed down our feeling about that apple crumble sitting on the kitchen counter.
42. “Wild Honey Pie” by the Beatles
If we could confess our feelings for pie, it would sound a lot like “I love you.” Yes, our feelings for the dessert are truly as simple as this track from the White Album.
43. “Dessert” by Darwin ft. Silentó
Turkey gets a lot of attention on Thanksgiving, but the true MVPs are the desserts lined up on the table once the main course is wrapped. There’s just something special about the sugary sweets that are warm and a little crumbly, and seem to multiply throughout the night.
44. “Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie” by Jay & The Techniques
As we wrap this list of songs of Thanksgiving, we have to nod to Thanksgiving’s signature dessert: the pumpkin pie. These cheery track from Jay & The Techniques will leave everyone in the best of moods as they dig into their dessert.
45. “Thank You Too!” by My Morning Jacket
“I don’t know what you were doing, I know I just want to thank you for thinking of me.” While this was likely written for a romantic love, it’s nice to remember everyone in your life who has supported you this past year.