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Thank U, India: 18 reasons that songs give thanks

Alanis Morissette's butt

1. For giving someone the best day of their life: Dido, “Thank You”

As far as reasons for saying thanks go, being given the single greatest day of your life seems legit, second only to either saving someone’s life or making them a parent, though either of those could account for the whole “best day of your life” thing. And while Dido’s reasons for thankfulness in 1999’s “Thank You”—handing her a towel after she got stuck in the rain, just being around in general—is a little anti-climactic compared to, say, winning the lottery or having giant dreams fulfilled, it’s a sweet sentiment all the same. Sometimes you’ve got to say thanks for the little stuff, after all. [Marah Eakin]


2. For sarcasm and bitterness: Big Star, “Thank You Friends”

A straight reading of Big Star’s lyrics might lead you to believe that “Thank You Friends” is a genuine and heartfelt (if a little sappy) tribute to friendship: “Thank you, friends / Wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you / I’m so grateful / For all the things you helped me do.” Nowhere in the lyrics is there a tell—Big Star maintains ostensible lyrical sincerity throughout the song—but listening to even just the first few bars reveals an obvious sneer in Alex Chilton’s voice, which is the perfect embodiment of the cliché “dripping with sarcasm.” It’s not exactly a song in the spirit of Thanksgiving, but the bitterness has its own charm. [Laura M. Browning]

3. For the memories, even if they weren’t so great: Fall Out Boy, “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs”

On the surface, this expression of gratitude has everything to do with silver linings: getting past a bad period of life and choosing to view it as a learning experience more than anything. Digging deeper, however, Fall Out Boy’s thankfulness on 2007’s “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs” is actually sarcastic. It’s directed toward an ex who’s moved on and found someone else better—and isn’t shy about sharing that he “tastes like you, only sweeter.” It’s the type of thanks doled out by the disgruntled or scorned, which tends to be far more cutting—and long-lasting—than the sincere variety. [Annie Zaleski]


4. For loving me, being there, and thanking you: Linda Belcher, “Thanksgiving Song”

Too often when it comes to giving thanks in song, the artist overlooks the importance of being polite, but such is not the case with Linda Belcher. When breaking into song during Bob’s Burgers’ season three episode “An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal” she takes care to give thanks for loving her, which is great, and being there, which is nice, but also goes above and beyond “thanking us for thanking you,” completing the totally over the top circle of perpetual and mandatory gratefulness that lies at the heart of any true acquaintanceship. So stirring and true are Linda’s words of lyrical gratitude, they inspired broody dude-rockers The National to record their own deeply moving version extolling us all to just keep thanking each other. At least until it’s time to kill the turkey. [Libby Hill]


5. For the cookin’, the whuppin’, the money, you, the trouble that I get into, the teachin’, and the preachin’: Sawyer Brown, “Thank God For You”

There are many things in this world to be thankful for, some large, some small, that it would be impossible to list them all in song, but that doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t try. And try Sawyer Brown does in the lead single from its 1993 album Outskirts Of Town. Some things make sense, like giving thanks to your mother for feeding or teaching you or to your father for preaching at you and making sure you had a good head on your shoulders. Others make less sense, like thanking the devil for getting you in trouble (which seems like it could have been avoided if he’d listened more to the aforementioned preaching) or thanking his father for beating him (which seems strange to throw out in the middle of such a jaunty tune.) And then there are the things that don’t really make any sense at all, like thanking the bank for the money. Unless the members of Sawyer Brown got a particularly fine deal refinancing their tour bus, banks aren’t typically where the money comes from. Oh, and they’re also grateful for you, baby. They definitely didn’t forget and tack it on at the last minute. You’re right up there with the whuppin’. [Libby Hill]


6. For traveling down the road and back again: Andrew Gold, “Thank You For Being A Friend”

While there’s an overabundance of songs about romantic love, few artists have remembered to celebrate the equally important platonic relationships in their lives. So in 1978 Andrew Gold took the time to say “Thank You For Being A Friend.” His simple, straightforward ode gushes, “Your heart is true, you’re a pal and a confidant.” The lyrics aren’t particularly deep—he claims he’d prove his friendship by bringing the biggest gift to a party—but it’s so rare to hear this type of relationship celebrated that the song earns its sentimentality. In 1985, Cynthia Fee’s cover became the theme for The Golden Girls, a show that similarly suggested life’s defining relationships don’t have to be romantic or familial. [Caroline Siede]


7. For a day that’s “totally Wicked Witch-free”: “Thank Goodness” from Wicked

When times are tough you have to celebrate the little things. And that’s exactly what Glinda (née Galinda) advises her fellow Ozians to do in Wicked’s Act Two opener “Thank Goodness.” Although Glinda knows the rumors about a Wicked Witch terrorizing the land are false (her friend Elphaba is more radical revolutionary than evil enchantress), Glinda’s a shrewd politician willing to use the situation to her advantage. She throws a massive party to celebrate “a day that’s totally Wicked Witch-free” while simultaneously bolstering her own political image (and revealing some inner regret to the audience). [Caroline Siede]


8. For self-expression via creative spelling: Sly And The Family Stone, “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)”

Few pop stars have expressed their individuality as intensely as Sly Stone. Even among the mult-culti psych-funk mix of The Family Stone, he stood out, a dynamic frontman in flower-power fashions whose uncompromising creative vision came at the cost of blown deadlines, erratic behavior, and an inhuman appetite for illicit substances. But that dark side was still largely in check when The Family Stone recorded “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)”—though, for such a sunny-sounding track, the lyrics are stealthily pessimistic. (“Flamin’ eyes of people / Fear burnin’ into you / Many men are missin’ much / Hatin’ what they do”) That facet of the song was later drawn out by a skeletal reprise on 1970’s There’s A Riot Goin’ On (retitled “Thank You For Talkin’ To Me, Africa”); in its original form “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” senses the forces of dark and light rallying against one another, but delays picking a side in order to celebrate idiosyncrasy one final time. The celebration encompasses the wild mondegreen of the song’s title, as well as Larry Graham’s slap-bass licks, the pops and thumps of which would soon lose their own individuality to wide-spread imitation and appropriation. [Erik Adams]


9. For walking and talking (and walking and talking and walking and talking): Talking Heads, “Thank You For Sending Me An Angel”

The headlong charge into 1978’s More Songs About Buildings And Food, “Thank You For Sending Me An Angel” is the type of Talking Heads track that seems like it should be a love song—if love songs were the types of songs David Byrne wrote. (“I have written a love song, though,” Byrne tells himself in a surreal promo film for the concert film Stop Making Sense. “In this film, I sing it to a lamp.”) “Thank You For Sending Me An Angel” is even more oblique than that, never clear on whether its narrator or its subject is the angel, and ever orbiting around the things the characters have in common: They can walk, and they can talk. Were it not for the way the band breaks the song’s cycle in its final measures, “Thank You For Sending Me An Angel” would be a feedback loop of gratitude, with no verses, no chorus, no bridge—just circular walking, circular talking, urged along by chicken-scratch guitars and the galloping rhythm section of Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz. Perhaps Talking Heads should’ve been saying thanks for being sent a perfect album-opener. [Erik Adams]


10. For making me a man instead of a woman: Country Teasers, “Thank You God For Making Me An Angel”

Ben Wallers, frontman of tongue-in-cheek art-punk band Country Teasers, has lots of reasons to thank the Lord for being born a man instead of a woman. As he explains in 1996’s “Thank You God For Making Me An Angel,” he’s strong enough to pick up big things and drink as much whiskey as he can hold, and he can get attention anytime he wants by just shouting. But more importantly, he can walk at night by himself in the streets without fear of assholes whistling at him, and anytime he desires he can “sing about bitches in my song.” All told, he can do basically whatever he wants, simply because he’s a man—because, as he wryly points out, that’s unfortunately how the world works. [Sean O’Neal]


11. For acknowledging that Jay Z is awesome, which is quite unnecessary: Jay Z, “Thank You”

Poor, humble Jay Z can’t go anywhere these days without people thanking him for being such an incredible rapper. So he graciously uses 2009’s “Thank You” to turn the tables and thank you for recognizing it, even though, really, you should hold your applause. And come on now, you don’t have to keep bowing down in his presence just because he has 10 (or maybe 11) No. 1 records. After all, that’s just who Jay Z is: an amazing talent who was just born a little different from everyone else by being naturally great. He thanks you, but he’d also thank you to not embarrass him with your fawning. [Sean O’Neal]


12. For buying enough drugs to make me wealthy: Gucci Mane, “Thank You”

While countless rappers have used “Thank You” songs to shout out the help they get from God, Gucci Mane credits a higher power: all the people who bought drugs from him, and all the connections who made that possible. On 2012’s “Thank You,” Gucci rattles off the expensive cars, clothes, and jewelry he owns, but modestly insists that it’s only possible because of those who believed in him—specifically, that he could move enough bales and bricks to earn a bankroll fat enough to pay for it all. It’s a heartwarming reminder that no one gets to the top of the game on their own; first they need that special someone to give them drugs to sell. [Sean O’Neal]


13. For America, in all its shittiness: Ministry, “Thanx But No Thanx”

In a message perfectly timed for Thanksgiving, Ministry offers up a pre-dinner prayer thanking America for this incredible bounty of turkey that’s about to be “shit out through wholesome American guts” on 2013’s “Thanx But No Thanx.” Al Jourgensen doesn’t forget the Indians who proved a “modicum of challenge” before they were slaughtered, to be followed by all of the nation’s vast natural beauty that we got to destroy. He also gives thanks for all the lies, racism, and government oppression that make up the debased American dream. Now let’s eat. [Sean O’Neal]


14. For being Jack White and giving me a fiber-optic Jesus: The Flaming Lips, “Thank You Jack White (For The Fiber-Optic Jesus That You Gave Me)”

The message of The Flaming Lips’ “Thank You Jack White (For The Fiber-Optic Jesus That You Gave Me)” is a universal one, applicable to any scenario in which one has just received a light-up Jesus statue from Jack White. In the specific instance of the 2003 song, Jack White gave this particular light-up Jesus to members of The Flaming Lips while backstage at a Detroit show, where they’d been opening for Beck. But really, it could be anyone’s story. And it’s always good to have on hand the next time Jack White hands you a fiber-optic Jesus and you find yourself tongue-tied. [Sean O’Neal]


15. For being the one person I can’t live without: Queen, “You’re My Best Friend”

While most of the attention given to Queen was focused on magnetic frontman Freddie Mercury, it’s the only group in which every member wrote a No. 1 hit for the band. Bassist John Deacon’s was “Another One Bites The Dust,” but his strongest effort as a songwriter is this simple, affecting love song he wrote for his wife, “You’re My Best Friend.” Deacon’s plainspoken declarations—“I still come back to you in rain or shine,” “You know I’ll never be lonely,” “Whenever this world is cruel to me, I got you to help me forgive”—eschew the fiery passion rock and roll usually puts into its love songs. Instead, the song paints a more enduring romance, between two people who are meant to be together through the ages. Calling your partner your best friend may be a cliché, but Queen makes it sing. [Mike Vago]


16. For battling evil robots: The Flaming Lips, “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt. 1, Pt. 2”

After scoring a fluke hit in 1993 with “She Don’t Use Jelly,” The Flaming Lips seemed content to drift back into the relative obscurity of the college radio circuit, releasing odd, ambitious records like Zaireeka (a four-CD set meant to be played on four stereos simultaneously). They started to get some critical notice with their follow-up, The Soft Bulletin, and then followed that with an album that managed to be as odd and ambitious as anything they’ve done, while also bringing them back into the mainstream. Throughout Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, singer Wayne Coyne waxes philosophical on songs like “Fight Test,” and “Do You Realize??”, but not until the title track lays out the album’s central framework: the story of a girl battling an army of killer robots. Coyne cheers on Yoshimi (a nod to Boredoms’ Yoshimi P-We, who also appears on the album), while cowering behind her in the chorus: “Oh Yoshimi / They don’t believe me / But you won’t let those / Robots eat me.” He laments that “it’d be tragic if those evil robots win,” but the song’s main sentiment is thankfulness that Yoshimi’s there to fight the robots so he doesn’t have to. [Mike Vago]


17. For coming to see our band: The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, “Believing In You”

Of all the bands out there with successful gimmicks, The Trachtenburgs may have the most elaborate. Jason Trachtenburg was a struggling singer-songwriter when his wife, Tina Piña, bought a slide player at a garage sale, compete with someone’s long-forgotten vacation slides. Jason composed a song about the strangers in the slides and their presumed adventures, the couple went out on tour with their then-6-year-old daughter on drums, and a minor sensation was born. The family clearly knew how lucky they were to have found their audience, as they often closed their shows with “Believing In You,” which explicitly thanked the audience for coming to the show and “caring about some boring local scene.” The band goes on to cover all the bases, thanking the press, people who helped out behind the scenes, and for good measure “a shout out to the rock and roll heavens, down there in the 7-11s,” making sure that by the end of the night, no one had gone un-thanked. [Mike Vago]


18. For being India: Alanis Morissette, “Thank U”

In addition to being one of the biggest earworms of all time, Alanis Morissette’s “Thank U” was also one of the singer’s biggest hits, earning the singer a Grammy nod for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 2000. (She lost to Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You.”) The ode to gratitude was written following a trip Morissette took to India, where she reportedly found spiritual enlightenment, as well as terror, disillusionment, frailty, consequence, and silence, if the song’s lyrics are to be believed. Given the video above, she must also have found a way to be comfortable with being completely nude. [Marah Eakin]


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