When I first heard Stephen Kellogg’s masterful Blunderstone Rookery in 2013, I quickly realized he was an artist I needed to see in concert. I was new to the music of Kellogg , but immediately impressed by his distinctive music and purposeful lyrics. Unfortunaately, the stars never aligned and he lingered near the top of my must-see list for a few years. Earlier this week, at the cozy Social in Orlando, I finally had the chance to catch him live, and it was well worth the wait.
Thanksgiving Songs – Songs about “Thanks”
In honor of Thanksgiving, I started a list of great Thanksgiving songs. I got to my top three and the creative juices stopped; Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant,” Poi Dog Pondering’s “Thanksgiving” and Stephen Kellogg’s anthemic “Thanksgiving” offering are all strong Thanksgiving songs, but other than those three, only Adam Sandler’s horrible “Thanksgiving” came to mind. So, I shifted my focus to the Best Songs with “Thank” in the title, and one of the aforementioned makes the list. They’re not all beautiful, and often have nothing to do with gratitude, in fact most of them are more on the bitter side…
The Best Thanksgiving Songs
In honor of this year’s Thanksgiving, I started a list of great Thanksgiving songs. I got to my top three and the creative juices stopped; Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant,” Poi Dog Pondering’s “Thanksgiving” and Stephen Kellogg’s new “Thanksgiving” offering are all decent, but other than those three, only Adam Sandler’s horrible “Thanksgiving” came to mind. So, I shifted my focus to the Best Songs with “Thank” in the title, and one of the aforementioned makes the list. They’re not all beautiful, and typically have nothing to do with gratitude, in fact most of them are more on the bitter side…
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So, before the tryptophan kicks in, here’s our cornucopia: the RARA’s Farm Farmer’s Dozen:
Bonus Track – “Thank You For The Music,” ABBA – I know, this is not Rock and Roll, but I have a soft spot for this one. It was released by the Swedish pop icons in 1977, and ultimately released as a single in 1983. To many, it is viewed as their swan song. It’s a fun and addictive singalong.
12. “Thank You For Sending Me An Angel,” Talking Heads – This tune kicks off the band’s second album, 1978’s More Songs About Buildings and Food. This short ditty highlights Chris Frantz’s fine drumming.
11. “Thanks A Lot,” Third Eye Blind” – This song was kind of lost in the shuffle on Third Eye Blind’s hugely successful 1997 debut release, but it is another of the many solid tunes on the album.
10. “Thank You,” The Redwalls – This little known indie outfit from outside Chicago has a great sound. This song is Beatlesesque and deserved more notoriety. If you’ve never heard them before, make sure you check this one out.
9. “Thank You Girl,” The Beatles – This tune is almost fifty years old already! It was initially released as the B-side to “From Me To You” as a personal message to their female followers. It’s a nice tribute to their fans.
8. “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs,” Fall Out Boy – The record company wanted shorter song titles from the band, and this was their response. “Thanks For the Memories” was a Top 10 hit in 2007 and is a fun tune about an old relationship with benefits from these Illinois rockers.
7. “Thanks A Lot,” Johnny Cash – This one from 1959 is a bitter tribute to a relationship gone bad. Not one of is hits, but it features his powerful deep distinctive voice.
6. “The Thanks I Get,” Coconut Records – Coconut Records, is the hip brainchild of multi-talented Jason Schwartzman who basically sings, writes and plays all the instruments. “The Thanks I Get” is off of the 2007 debut effort, Nighttiming. It’s a fun pop tune about yet another relationship gone bad.
5. “Thank You For Being A Friend,” Andrew Gold – OK, I’ll admit, I succumbed to a a bit of peer pressure on this one. To me, the song is okay, but nothing special, but all of the relatives liked it, and sadly,he recently passed away, so I gave it a special holiday bump in the ratings. The song was one of the bigger hits on this list, reaching #25 in 1978.
4. “Thank You,” Sly and the Family Stone – This funk tune was reprotedly recorded during some of Sly Stone’s deepest periods of drug use. It’s got a great funky beat, powered by the fantastic bass of Larry Graham. It’s a timeless masterpiece from the early 70’s. I love the official title “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).”
3. “I Thank You,” Sam And Dave (also covered wonderfully by ZZTop) – The Sam and Dave version was a gospel influenced song written by Isaac Hayes that peaked in the Top Ten in 1968. Ten Years later, ZZ Top released it on their 1979 album Deguello. For both artists, it became their second Top 40 hit.
2. “Thank You,” Led Zeppelin – This 1969 Plant/Page classic was actually the first song where the lyrics were penned by Robert Plant. The lyrics were a tribute to Plant’s relationship with his wife, Maureen. It wraps up the fantastic first side of Led Zeppelin II, and features beautiful keyboards from John Paul Jones. To secure it’s spot atop our list, it is truly a song about Thanks.
1. “Thanksgiving,” Stephen Kellogg – This is a masterpiece. It’s ten minutes that flies by; an epic ode to nostalgia; a musical journey that offers deep personal reflections, observations and desires. It ebbs and flows through sadness, bitterness and hope. Perhaps, something to finally supplant Alice’s Restaurant” as a Thanksgiving radio staple. It’s a fantastic track from a wonderful album (Read our review: Blunderstone Rookery) that will appeal to any music fan.
Can you think of any, I missed?
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Stephen Kellogg – Blunderstone Rookery Album Review
Similar to the Dickens’ character who Blunderstone Rookery was named in honor of, we experience the album as poignant autobiographical vignettes of Kellogg’s life. The collection of songs is as creative as it is supremely enjoyable. It’s a rambling tour through Kellogg’s memories and a great listen.
He’s spent most of the past decade fronting the critically acclaimed Stephen Kellogg and The Sixers. When the band announced they’d be taking a hiatus in late 2012, Kellogg was provided the opportunity to once again create something all his own. The result is a fantastically diverse album that is destined for year-end “Best Of” lists.
Blunderstone Rookery is the boyhood home of Kellogg’s favorite Charles Dickens character, David Copperfield, and appears to be a metaphor for the shaky foundation he has recently experienced in his life with the loss of his grandmother and mother-in-law, as well as the aforementioned break from his longtime band. It’s a great backdrop for songwriting, and Kellogg capitalizes, without portraying his protagonist as too desperate or depressed, but rather hopeful and positive.
The breadth of the album is nicely spotlighted in the differences of the first three tracks, all quite different, yet quite strong in their own right. The introspective “Lost and Found” is a comfortable acoustic track, backed up by the bluesy romp “The Brain Is A Beautiful Thing,” which is one of many tracks with deep contemplative lyrics. The third track is “Forgive You, Forgive Me,” a bouncy country-rock groove reminiscent of the Traveling Wilburys. Kellogg’s vocals are excellent throughout, whether the song is a powerful rocker or tender ballad.
The remainder of the album follows the same recipe; yup, the one where Grandma just grabbed a handful of this and a little bit of that, casually threw it together and delivered a fantastic memorable meal.
Other highlights include the touching ballad about a rocker’s life on the road “I Don’t Want to Die On the Road,” a song just as poignant as Jackson Browne’s “Load Out” – the stuff that is destined to stand the test of time. “Good Ol’ Days” is probably the most hit worthy song of the bunch and is 4:02 of good ol’ honky tonk rock, nicely accented with sax and impeccably mixed. It’s just one of many examples of the superb album production of Kellogg and and his longtime collaborator Kit Karlson (of the Sixers). The effort is exceptional with various instruments purposefully meandering in and out of the tunes at the precisely perfect time.
The penultimate track, “Thanksgiving,” is a masterpiece. It’s ten minutes that flies by; an epic ode to nostalgia; a musical journey that offers deep personal reflections, observations and desires. It ebbs and flows through sadness, bitterness and hope. Perhaps, something to finally supplant Alice’s Restaurant” as a Thanksgiving radio staple. It’s a fantastic track (that should have closed the album) that will appeal to any music fan.
“Blunderstone Rookery” is not perfect, but it’s pretty damn good. Make sure you pick it up June 18th.
RARA’s Ranking: 9 out of 10