Years ago I saw Greg Proops do a routine at the Edinburgh Festival where he suggested that the British should celebrate Thanksgiving as much as his countrymen. Instead of being thankful for breaking bread with the Natives we should be grateful for saying “fuck off” to the Puritans. I don’t know. If Benjamin Franklin’s dad had stayed put in Northamptonshire we could have claimed the lightning rod and the glass armonica as English inventions.
I enjoyed my first Thanksgiving in America in 1995 while working as a volunteer at a children’s home in South Carolina. My lasting memories of that meal are candied yams (disgustingly sweet) and one of our most foul-mouthed charges surprising me with a lovely speech about what he was thankful for. He later told me his seemingly heartfelt words were all “bullshit”.
Two years later during my university exchange to Wisconsin I spent Thanksgiving with my fellow American Studies exiles in a very cold Chicago. Instead of the traditional turkey we found an excellent, empty Indian restaurant and ate curry.
My only other Thanksgiving in the USA was at a friend’s parents’ house in small-town Minnesota. I bought Carter Burwell’s score to Fargo just so we could play it while driving past the Paul Bunyan statue in Brainerd.
If you want a wonderful musical accompaniment to your Thanksgiving today I recommend tuning into my favourite American radio station WNCW. You’ll hear lots of great songs about food and at noon (US Eastern Standard Time, 5pm UK time) they will play the full 18:34 minutes of Arlo Guthrie’s Alice's Restaurant Massacree, just like they do every year.
The only explicitly related Thanksgiving song in my collection is Dan Bern’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. A wonderful stream of consciousness that takes in Michelangelo, the Pope and Men at Work. Enjoy!