Count Your Blessings: Bluegrass Songs for your Thanksgiving Weekend

Not the first time I've seen a banjo player called a "turkey!"I don’t know about you, but every year, Thanksgiving ranks higher and higher on my list of favorite holidays. And every year, as Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier, it frustrates me more that Thanksgiving continues to be pushed aside.

Thanksgiving is the only major holiday without a strong sense of commercialism attached to it, which is what makes it so great. Like few other holidays, it has managed to stay unblemished in the face of a society that is always looking to “cash in.”

The sole purpose of Thanksgiving is to reflect and appreciate what we have, rather than focus on getting what we don’t have. Spending the day eating great food with family, and maybe even watching a little football, is mighty hard to beat. I really enjoyed spending my day with family yesterday, and I think I’m still feeling the effects of a good ole turkey hangover.

In order to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, here are some bluegrass songs to help you count your blessings.

>Thank You – Becky Buller
A new song from Becky’s solo album, ‘Tween Earth and Sky, I had this song stuck in my head as our family prepared for our Thanksgiving feast. Becky is a triple threat in this industry with her singing, songwriting, and fiddle playing. The melody for Thank You is addictive, and I’m sure you’ll find yourself humming this one in no time, just as I have.

Thank You World – Dailey & Vincent
This old Statler Brothers song was included on Dailey & Vincent’s Grammy-nominated Dailey & Vincent Sing The Statler Brothers album. Giving the song a country-grass treatment makes this old favorite a lot of fun. The extreme vocal talent of the group is in the spotlight, as to be expected from the three-time IBMA Vocal Group of the Year.

Thank You Lord – Larry Sparks
An old gospel song from the early days of Larry Sparks, Thank You Lord shows why Sparks is considered the King of Bluegrass Soul. His powerful voice is absolutely captivating, and few singers can provide a more emotional delivery than this future hall of famer.

Thanks Again – Ricky Skaggs
Although from his country days, Thanks Again‘s acoustic arrangement makes it loved by country and bluegrass fans alike. With this song, Skaggs thanks his parents for everything from flying’ his kite and tannin’ his bottom. You’ll want to hug your parents a little tighter after giving this one a listen. Thanks Again is easily one of my favorites from Ricky’s country heyday.

Thankful For Each Day – Junior Sisk & Rambler’s Choice
Clocking in at just under two minutes, this a cappella selection from Junior’s award-winning The Heart Of A Song album is straightforward gospel song of thanksgiving for not only this earthly life, but for an eternal home in heaven.

Thanks A Lot – IIIrd Tyme Out
This old Ernest Tubb standard popped up on IIIrd Tyme Out’s debut album. In addition to Russell Moore’s killer lead vocals (as to be expected), this country classic kicks off with some of Russell’s under appreciated guitar playing. Alan Bibey’s mandolin and Mike Hartgrove’s country fiddle are sure to lift you out of your seat as well.

Thank God For Kentucky – Bill Monroe
The Father of Bluegrass was always proud of his Kentucky home. He tips his famous hat to “The Bluegrass State” with Thank God For Kentucky, sure to cause all Kentuckians to place their hands over their heart.

Norman Rockwell's 'Freedom From Want'Thank You, Dear God – Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
From Doyle’s latest album, Thank  You, Dear God is such a blessing. This song reminds us to be thankful for the simple beauty all around us and for God’s divine providence, no matter how toilsome our life may seem. Doyle and his mandolin have been touching hearts for decades, and this new song follows in the great tradition of Quicksilver gospel music.

Thanks For All The Yesterdays – The Osborne Brothers
The country-grass files of the Osborne Brothers are some of my music of all time. The timeless sound of their powerful vocals backed with a lonesome steel guitar is as good as it gets. While being the saddest song on this list, I think we can all agree that we need to be thankful for the music of the Osborne Brothers.

Thank You – The Isaacs
The Isaacs have been one of the most successful bluegrass gospel groups of the past twenty years. The beautiful family harmony from Ben, Becky, and Sonya Isaacs can touch even the most callous heart. This early hit of theirs reminds us be “thankful for the things that I never thanked you for” — a message of which we all need to be reminded.

Thank God For Mama – The Lonesome River Band
Who doesn’t love a good Mama song? We are all due to show more appreciation for our mothers. As my mother (Love you, Momma Tam!) says, “He’s a good boy, but he sure wasn’t born that way!” Thank God For A Mama helps reminds us of that. Ronnie Bowman sings his heart on this LRB classic.

Thank You Lord – Paul Williams & The Victory Trio
The first song I remember hearing from Paul Williams & The Victory Trio is Thank You Lord. Not to be confused with the aforementioned Thank You Lord from the Larry Sparks catalog, this song has served as a great reminder of all of God’s blessings in my life ever since I was a little boy. I’m thankful that I can remember learning this one with my sister and singing it as children with Dad in church. (We quickly learned that she was a much better than I, so I have since been demoted to singing this one in the car.) The words of this simple song come to mind a lot around this time of year, and I wish I pondered on this song’s message more often.

I Just Want To Thank You Lord – The Marshall Family
In my opinion, I Just Want To Thank You Lord is one of most powerful songs in the bluegrass gospel canon. While Larry Sparks’ version is very close to my heart, no list of “thankful” songs would be complete without the original recording from The Marshall Family. Judy Marshall wrote this classic, and her voice is so beautiful. It’s nearly impossible to listen to her sing this song and not get goosebumps.

I just want to thank you, Lord
For every time you heard me pray.
I just want to thank you, Lord
For always being there.

When I was so down and out
You came along and made me want to shout.
I just want to thank you, Lord.
Thank you, Lord.

This song has touched people’s hearts for nearly forty years, and I don’t think it’s going to stop blessing people any time soon.

Hopefully, you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving, eating your fill and spending time in fellowship with friends and family.

If I missed any of your favorite thankful songs, be sure to leave them in the comments below!

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About the Author

Daniel Mullins

Daniel is from southwestern Ohio and has been around bluegrass his entire life. He manages the Classic Country Connection, a music store in southern Ohio which specializes in bluegrass, classic country, gospel, and Americana music. He is the host of the Bending The Strings radio program, which plays a variety of bluegrass, newgrass, and Americana music. He also maintains the website for Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers. photo by LuAnn Adams