There are hundreds and hundreds of Christmas songs. But Thanksgiving doesn’t get the same love. The holiday celebrates family, blessings, and memories along the way. Surely, there’s a country music song for that. These country artists sing about the little moments, the love between family, and past memories.
Celebrate Thanksgiving and being thankful with these 10 country songs that show what the holiday is all about.
Johnny Cash – ‘Thanksgiving Prayer’
Celebrate Thanksgiving with a prayer from the Man in Black himself. Listeners won’t find “Thanksgiving Prayer” on one of Johnny Cash‘s greatest hits compilation. But the song is a poignant look at the holiday season and family. Cash performed the tune as part of a 1994 holiday special of “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.”
The singer has a connection to the show. Both Cash and his wife June Carter Cash appeared a few times on the series. The show’s producer Josef Anderson wrote the song, which is also known as “I’m Thanking the Lord He Made You.”
Merle Haggard – ‘Thanking The Good Lord’
Ring in the holiday season with another country music legend – Merle Haggard. Haggard was probably also thankful for Cash, whose music inspired him to become a musician himself. “Thanking The Good Lord” featured on Haggard’s 1987 album “Chill Factor.”
The song explores being thankful for a loved one in the singer’s life. Lyrics include: “The love I’ve been needin’ I just found in your heart. And I’m thanking the good Lord for you.”
Sara Evans – ‘I Could Not Ask for More’
Sometimes, it’s the small moments that people are thankful for. Sara Evans’ cover of “I Could Not Ask for More” explores these small intimate moments. Evans turned the Diane-Warren written song into a country hit when she released the single in 2001. Originally, singer Edwin McCain sang the song. But country fans wouldn’t be wrong in thinking Evans’ version to be the superior version.
Evans combines country twang and also pop beats for a thankful song that’s both reflective and up-tempo. The song also featured on Evans’ album “Born to Fly.”
The Zac Brown Band – ‘Chicken Fried’
The Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried” also celebrates the little things in life. But where Evans’ focused on intimate moments, Brown’s song highlights things people may take for granted. The song first featured on Brown’s 2005 album “Home Grown” and later on the band’s 2008 album “The Foundation.”
“The song is basically just a list of all the things that I love,” Brown said. “Pretty much, this is who we are. And granted it was four or five years ago when we finished the song and we wrote it, but that’s the roots, and basically, it’s like the more we get along and the older we get, there are very few songs that you can say ‘I believe in,’ and those are the things that I want to write about and sing about. And that was just one of those things that was captured in that song.”
Montgomery Gentry – ‘Lucky Man’
“Lucky Man” hits a little harder than it used to. The song by Montgomery Gentry featured on their 2006 album “Some People Change.” The song explores the little ways the narrator considers himself to be a “lucky man.” In 2017, Troy Gentry died in a helicopter crash shocking the country music industry.
His collaborator Eddie Montgomery says he is still thankful for the time they spent together. Montgomery has also gone through his own share of challenges. He’s battled cancer, had to bury his son, and also experienced bankruptcy. But he’s still thankful for his life.
“I never question the man upstairs in my life, and I’m not gonna start now,” Montgomery told Taste of Country. “He’s given me a hell of a life and he’s let me be around a lot of people, man, that have changed my life. I’m not gonna question that at all.”
Darius Rucker – ‘This’
With his No. 1 hit “This,” Darius Rucker is thankful for the moments that didn’t happen. The singer comments on how life doesn’t go as planned. But sometimes life leads people to places they would never even expected. Rucker’s narrator is thankful for being rejected by girls and colleges because it led him to the family he has.
“I love everything about it,” Rucker told The Boot. “I love the danceability of the song. And I love the words to the song. I love the sing-a-long chorus, and then you get the payoff: ‘All that stuff, all that stuff led me right here.'”
Martina McBride – ‘Blessed’
Celebrating both family and blessings, Martina McBride’s “Blessed” is a quintessential Thanksgiving song. The song focuses on many of life’s blessings such as the laughter of children or being on a porch swing. Upon release, McBride received another blessing when the song shot to the top of the country charts. The CMA also nominated the song for Single of the Year.
Songwriters Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey explained how the song is a love song but not in a romantic sense.
“There’s not that many of them, so people respond to them,” Verges said. “That was in my head for a while, and it still is. If you can do that … write a song that’s not a love song, it’s a way to stand out a little bit. ‘Blessed’ is a love song, but it’s not a romantic love song. Part of it is, but it’s about celebrating life.”
Travis Tritt – ‘It’s a Great Day to Be Alive’
Sometimes the greatest pleasure in life is simply being alive. Travis Tritt’s anthem “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive” explores the joys of just being alive and living. Tritt’s narrator is thankful to be alive despite some “hard times in the neighborhood.” Like Brown and Evans, he sings of simple pleasures like “rice cooking in the microwave.” The narrator feels urged to celebrate his joy by taking his Harley for a ride or getting a tattoo.
The song featured on Tritt’s album “Down the Road I Go.”
Luke Combs – ‘Without You’
Like many of his songs, Luke Combs’ “Without You” sounds both personal and relatable at the same time. The song celebrates the sacrifice and hard work older generations make for their children. Combs sings that he would be nothing without what his parents did. This year, Combs has a lot to be thankful for. He recently married his girlfriend Nicole Hocking and also won CMA Male Vocalist of the Year.
“I value Thanksgiving a lot. You know, I value family. I value friends and time spent with those people is something that money can’t buy,” Combs said, according to Universal Music Group Pressroom. “And something that you can never get back. So, I always take Thanksgiving off. The entire week of Thanksgiving every year so that my band and crew can spend time with their families.”
Tim McGraw – ‘Gravy’
Perhaps one of the most relatable Thanksgiving songs for 2020, Tim McGraw’s “Gravy” reflects on family and past experiences. The music video splices together home videos of McGraw’s and various others for a tender trip into the past. Home movies remind people of moments and holidays that have passed and the loved ones along the way.
“I know Thanksgiving looks a little different for a lot of us this year,” McGraw wrote. “Let’s take care of each other and remember what’s most important in life…. The ones we share it with.”