1 – LED ZEPPELIN – “Thank You”
A month before Thanksgiving of 1969, Led Zeppelin released the ultimate song of romance and gratitude with “Thank You.” No song has come close to delivering such an impassioned message in such a poetic way in all of the years that have passed since. The song title never appears in the song, but it doesn’t matter. With such powerful mental imagery created by the lyrics, the message comes across loud and clear without ever having to say the words “Thank You.” True gratitude comes from the heart and is displayed by actions, not words. It’s no wonder that one of the greatest songs of all-time is still used as the wedding song for so many to this day.
2 – TESLA – “What You Give”
“It’s not what you got, it’s what you give…it ain’t the life you choose, it’s the life you live.” Grammatical liberties aside, “What You Give” truly encapsulates the meaning of Thanksgiving. Each year on this holiday, people take time to show their gratitude. Sadly, for many, that show of gratitude is short-lived as they quickly shift their focus towards acquiring more material goods. Black Friday was bad enough, but shopping has now taken over Thanksgiving itself. We would be better off as a society if we were more influenced by this classic Tesla song than retail stores.
3 – SAMMY HAGAR – “Give To Live”
“Give To Live” is from the only solo album (I Never Said Goodbye) that Sammy Hagar recorded during the Van Halen years. This is one of two Hagar solo songs that Van Halen played in concert, and features Eddie Van Halen playing bass. Very few singers can tap into the emotion of song the way that Hagar does on “Give To Live,” an incredible power ballad about love and compromise.
4 – KISS – “God Gave Rock and Roll to You II”
“God Gave Rock and Roll to You” was originally recorded by Argent in 1971. The more well-known version emerged two decades later when KISS covered the song to be included on the soundtrack to Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. It was later included on the band’s 1992 release, Revenge. With all due respect to Argent, KISS made the song their own and brought it to another level. Anyone who has ever relied upon rock and roll as an escape from reality can appreciate what a powerful gift it is, and should be thankful for the gift on Thanksgiving (and every other day).
5 – SEVENDUST – “Thank You”
Representing the current generation of hard rock, Sevendust delivers a powerful, intense message with the first single from their latest album, Kill The Flaw. Unlike Led Zeppelin’s song with the same title, Sevendust’s “Thank You” is not a touching love song, but it does show gratitude for providing a reality check, and offering up the realization that sometimes you need a new beginning.
6 – THE GUESS WHO – “Share The Land”
In 1970, The Guess Who optimistically looked forward to a time when there would be peace as we all shared the land. Fast forward to 2015, and that concept seems as realistic as unicorns. The problems of the world aside, this song captures the spirit of Thanksgiving and brings to mind images of the pilgrims and Native Americans. Sadly, this concept seems as unlikely to happen (figuratively) in the United States as it does in places like the Middle East (literally).
7 – SUPERTRAMP – “Give A Little Bit”
Supertramp’s “Give A Little Bit” is a classic example of the mood of the song saying more than the lyrics. The lyrics, while fairly simple and repetitive, are about giving and receiving love, sharing, caring and a feeling of home. The true spirit of Thanksgiving is captured in few words.
8 – SCORPIONS – “You Give Me All I Need”
From the Scorpions hit album, Blackout, “You Give Me All I Need” is a high-energy love song about second chances and starting anew. It’s not the kind of giving that is usually associated with Thanksgiving, but with limited quality hard rock songs about gratitude and generosity; this underrated track fits with the theme closely enough.
9 – ZZ TOP – “I Thank You”
The original version of “I Thank You” was recorded by Sam and Dave in 1968, but most rock fans are more familiar with the ZZ Top version which came out in 1979. The soulful tone of the song and the title make it seem like an ideal fit for Thanksgiving. A closer listen to the lyrics when compiling this list reveals that the song is probably a bit more sexual than most people realize.
10 – ROGER DALTREY – “Giving It All Away”
This song (written by then-unknown Leo Sayer) was released as a solo single by The Who frontman in 1973. It is Roger Daltrey’s highest-charting solo single in the UK, but never charted in the U.S. As he has done so many times with The Who, Daltrey delivers an emotionally stirring performance on “Giving It All Away.” Although the lyrics are somewhat cryptic, the song captures the melancholic feeling that many feel during the holidays.
11 – PETE TOWNSHEND – “Give Blood”
Giving blood saves lives. Unfortunately, it usually takes a tragedy for many to make the effort to donate, and then it is done en masse, which causes waste because of the shelf life of donated blood. This is more of a personal observation and Thanksgiving soapbox moment than a true reflection of the song’s intent. Click here to read the fascinating story behind the creation of this song by The Who’s legendary guitarist.
12 – RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – “Give It Away”
With the exception of questioning “material excess” and a few other references, it’s not exactly clear what Anthony Kiedis is giving away, but he and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are doing so with authority. Kingpins, paupers, hoosegow and Bob Marley are all squeezed into this Chili Peppers track that features their signature rock/funk/rap sound.
13 – RATT – “Give It All”
Rounding out the Top 13 Hard Rock Songs for Thanksgiving is a song that isn’t about traditional giving, but then again, this is a genre that isn’t known for being wholesome. This is what “giving” was all about during the decade of decadence that was the ‘80s. You have to find a way to burn off all of those Thanksgiving calories somehow, so why not “give it all” Ratt-style?
NOTE: Each song can be listened to individually by clicking on the hyperlinked song title. See below for the full Top 13 Hard Rock Songs for Thanksgiving playlist.