The Tailgate Society thought it was high time to get someone on board to send your ears on an aural adventure each week. Our girl Sylvia June selects 5 songs that tell a story, pertain to current events, convey a feeling or just make her happy. And, most of the time, she’ll have a great new album for you to check out, too (just not today).
Being “thankful” at Thanksgiving seems to have nearly become a schtick, something we perform instead of embody. I totally understand the desire to create “30 Days of Gratitude” Facebook posts, to shoot some Insta pics and post them with inspirational quotes and hashtags. I’ve done it. It seems like it should be a good thing to want people to know what you’re thankful for. But if I’m honest with myself, making a public show of my gratitude–especially when I am “supposed to”–makes it more about image rather than honoring the recipient of my thanks..
The world becomes a better place when we turn “giving thanks” into “doing thanks.” In my own case, there’s lots of room for improvement. I’m thankful for my family, so maybe I should actually go see them once in a while without being asked. I’m thankful for my friends, so maybe I should take the radical step of picking up the phone to call them. And that’s just showing gratitude to people. I could show gratitude for my cats by practicing mindfulness and focusing on them during a play session. I can pick up trash around my neighborhood and conserve resources to show the Earth that I give a shit about the effort it puts out to keep me alive.
Another thing that can inspire us to “do thanks,” of course, is music. Countless songs have been written about thankfulness. “Thank You” by Dido is a song my partner treasures because it reminds her of her mom. Her mom would sing parts of that song to her and her sister, saying the best day of her life was the day they were born. Here are five songs that inspire me:
- 311, “Thank Your Lucky Stars”
The world can be a scary place full of conflict and death, but this song reminds me that, even so, I’ve “got it good.” There were definitely times when I thought I would not come around, but I am OK now.
“It’s a mistake to be paranoid
A mental state that takes strength to avoid
All the hostility and fear should be challenged
Cause what’s the point of living that way”
2. Queen, “You’re My Best Friend”
This song makes me think of how much I love all my closest friends. Sure, it can be seen as a romantic song, but the love I have for my best platonic friends is so gigantic that the lyrics here really make sense. They inspire me to be a better me.
” Oh, you’re the best friend that I ever had
I’ve been with you such a long time
You’re my sunshine and I want you to know
That my feelings are true
I really love you”
3. John Denver, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy”
Despite the fact that I am neither a boy, nor do I contain one ounce of “country,” this song reminds me that the pursuit of a simple life will never do me harm. And it’s just fun to sing along to.
“Well I got me a fine wife I got me an ole fiddle
When the sun’s comin’ up I got cakes on the griddle
Life ain’t nothin’ but a funny, funny riddle”
4. Joe Walsh, “Life’s Been Good”
I smile every time this song comes on because it is a little relaxing, a little funky, and his satirical take on being a “big star” reminds me to laugh at myself every once in a while.
“Lucky I’m sane after all I’ve been through
(Everybody say I’m cool) (He’s cool)
I can’t complain but sometimes I still do
Life’s been good to me so far”
5. “i thank you God for most this amazing day,” a poem by e.e. cummings set to music by Eric Whitacre
If you have ever been so full of gratitude for someone or something that you feel you could burst open, so open to the amazing opportunities a single day can hold for your life, then you will understand the meaning of these words. I try to keep this poem memorized. I consider it a prayer.
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
BONUS THANKS: Another TGS member, Jason Mitchell, said the song “Celebrate” by Grady Spencer and The Work reminded him to be thankful. It’s a really great, fun song that can help people mired in the everyday doldrums appreciate the finer points of adult life.
People ain’t got it this good, so let’s get down and DO thanks.
“Time it gets shorter, don’t make me wait / Drop the Whole 30 let’s eat some cake / Baby don’t worry, let’s celebrate”
What inspires you to “do thanks?” I want to know!