Picture this: It’s a beautiful fall morning. You’re back at home for Thanksgiving, momentarily avoiding the stresses of college in December by spending time with your family and friends. You’re asleep in bed, cozy under the covers, when your mom walks in, opens the shades and says you have to help cook the Thanksgiving dinner today.
You know the rest of the morning and afternoon will be filled with hard work, but with the reward of a fantastic feast on the horizon, you acquiesce. To get you through the day, you decide to play some music; the task calls for a mix of cozy, soothing tunes matched with upbeat, energizing beats for the cooking demands of the day, as well as some lyrically thematic songs, fitting for the holidays on the horizon — cue The Amherst Student’s Thanksgiving playlist.
“Gravity” by John Mayer
“Gravity” is one of the most timeless leisure songs. Mayer talked about the song in a concert in 2005: “This is the most important song I’ve ever written; it’s a time capsule song. I will listen to it every day of my life if I need to. [It’s] a song about … making sure you still love yourself … making sure you still have your head on, making sure you still say no the way your mom would say no.” The iconic chorus will stay in your head for the rest of the day. Just don’t be surprised if you find your parents slow dancing to this song while you try to whip up those mashed potatoes.
“It Might Be Time” by Tame Impala
After “Gravity,” it’s time for some more energy. Kevin Parker, who records as the one-man studio band Tame Impala, continues his recent run of successful singles with “It Might Be Time,” which is slated to feature on his upcoming album “The Slow Rush.” Parker focuses on percussion in both the album and single, which is evident even uponfirst listen. In the song, he wonders whether he’s washed up as both an individual and artist: “It might be time to face it … you ain’t as young as you used to be.” Luckily, you can save this existential crisis for graduation.
“Lost” by Frank Ocean
Ocean’s vocals are almost unparalleled, and they keep his fans coming back despite long periods without releasing music. Even with a recent November song release from Ocean, his 2012 album “Orange” is worth revisiting over and over again. When he croons the chorus “Lost, lost in the heat of it all / Girl you know you’re lost” over a whimsical synth, it’s difficult not to sing along.
“What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong
“I see skies of blue and clouds of white,” croaks Armstrong over a classic ensemble of violins, flutes and guitars. He radiates the positivity and joy of the holiday season, a necessary pick-me-up for when you’re three hours into cooking or an hour into a conversation with that step-uncle who can’t stop talking about his new house.
“Beast of Burden” by The Rolling Stones
One of the classic rock behemoth’s most iconic songs, “Beast of Burden” is not too intense for dinner, and some of your relatives might even sing along. The best compliment your cool aunt can give you at this dinner isn’t “Wow, you look great,” but “Is this your music?” “Beast of Burden” will give you a good shot at DJ recognition with the adults in your life.
“Thanksgiving” by YBN Cordae
YBN Cordae talks about one of the most important Thanksgiving rituals: bringing home a significant other home to meet one’s family. He sets the ideal tone in the chorus: “Thanksgiving ’round the corner, need banana puddin’ / Brought you home to mama even though you said I shouldn’t.” The soulful beat completes the homey mood.
“Chicken Fried” by Zac Brown Band
While certainly an appropriate song year-round, Zac Brown sings quite a bit about what he’s thankful for and gives us one of the most important reminders of the season: “It’s funny how it’s the little things in life that mean the most / Not where you live, what you drive or the price tag on your clothes.” It turns out that country music might have a place at your Thanksgiving, after all.
“Beautiful Escape” and “Wake Up This Day” by Tom Misch
Misch’s rise to the mainstream music industry has been well documented, but his earlier works, like these two tracks from “Beat Tape 2,” just as enjoyable, if not more so, as his most recent album “Geography.” Misch’s vocals and deft guitar work shine in both songs, which establish a relaxed and comforting ambience for dinner or unwinding after a warm, heavy feast.
“Mistletoe” by Justin Bieber
Is there a more iconic Bieber song than his middle-school ode to romance? Even the staunchest Bieber haters can’t help enjoying the holiday spirit of “Mistletoe,” and so will you and your family. One of the songs that shot him into the stratosphere of stardom, “Mistletoe” features holiday bells and Bieber’s signature prepubescent warbling. “Mistletoe” is the perfect transition from Thanksgiving into the holiday season, and if you bring home a significant other, it’s a romantic gesture as well.
Hopefully by the time you finish this playlist, you’ll have spent a meaningful evening with friends and family, giving thanks not just for the people in your life but for good music as well.