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thanksgiving piano songs
Photo of Michael Lane
by Michael Lane

5 piano songs that can’t be missing on your Thanksgiving playlist

Autumn - or Fall - is in full flow, and that means something is coming… No, not Winter. Thanksgiving!

Around this time of year, people all around the world gather for harvest festivals to give thanks for what we have, whether it’s food, prosperity, or simply peace. Thanksgiving in the US, Erntedankfest in Germany, Mid-Autumn Festival in China, and so many more, they are a time of togetherness and family—the perfect opportunity to enjoy music together.

So whether or not you celebrate any of these holidays, or just want to get some autumnal feeling into your repertoire, here are five songs to help you get into the Thanksgiving spirit.

Oh Happy Day - Gospel Traditional

Thanksgiving is a time of—that’s right—giving thanks. For how lucky we are and for the things that make us happy. This gospel arrangement of a classic hymn brings the slightest touch of blues to a song about happiness in its purest form. And if you’re a Beatles fan, it’s not hard to hear how George Harrison used most of the chords and melody as a blueprint for his legendary “My Sweet Lord”.

“The New World Symphony” II. Largo - Symphony No. 9 - Antonin Dvorák

A few hundred years after the First Thanksgiving, Dvořák went to the “New World” of America to work as the director of the National Conservatory of Music. There, he wrote a symphony that encapsulates the open expanses and diverse cultures. Dvořák combined elements of Native American and African American spiritual music with his classical roots to produce something truly breathtaking.

Autumn Leaves - Joseph Kosma

This melancholy jazz standard has been recorded more than a thousand times, by everyone from Bing Crosby to Bob Dylan. It perfectly captures the feeling of autumnal sorrow, with or without the lyrics. Just think of this final verse as you play… “Since you went away the days grow longer, and soon I'll hear old winter's song. But I miss you most of all my darling, when autumn leaves start to fall”.

Autumn in New York - Vernon Duke

The end of Autumn is a time of slowing down and reflecting. So here’s another jazz standard with a forlorn, dreamy feel. But here, the playful jumps and more bluesy flourishes can give you a little more optimism… “It's autumn in New York that brings the promise of new love.”

I’m Yours - Jason Mraz

From thoughtful and optimistic to full-on feel-good. This modern pop classic is sickly-sweet, but there’s nothing wrong with that! A song about pure love is an excellent way to show how thankful you are to someone in your life. It also uses THAT four-chord progression shared by countless huge hits.

thanksgiving