A live shot from the 1970s of "Coat of Many Colors" singer-songwriter Dolly Parton
Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

10 Country Songs About Gratitude For Your Thanksgiving Playlist


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Typically, there's a sense of hope present in country music. Even in a lot of the sad songs that some use to define the genre, the singer's glass is half full. And of course, uplifting songs of faith and family have been no less prominent than weepers in the genre's 100 years of crossing streams with pop and gospel traditions.

So, it's easy to piece together "Home for the Holidays" playlists for Thanksgiving: or, the tiny window in between Halloween and spooky season and the moment when Christmas songs completely take over. Options range from the silly (Adam Sandler's "The Thanksgiving Song," if we're not sticking to country music) to the sincere (Vince Guaraldi Trio's soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving), with ample possibilities by Hall of Famers (Ray Charles and James Taylor's "Sweet Potato Pie") and current stars (Kelly Clarkson's "Thankful") in between. Read on for our 10 favorite country songs that fit a Thanksgiving theme.

10. "Thanking the Good Lord," Merle Haggard (Chill Factor, 1987)

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 01: Merle Haggard performs on stage at the Country Music Festival held at Wembley Arena, London in April 1988.

David Redfern/Redferns

Reflecting on what's going right for you and your family in a world full of discouragement is truly the reason for the Thanksgiving season. Haggard puts Turkey Day in that proper perspective on this song that sets the tone for our playlist. Think of it as a spiritual successor of Haggard hero Bing Crosby's "I've Got Plenty to Be Thankful For." Listen here.

9. "Thank God for Hometowns," Carrie Underwood (Blown Away, 2012)

Carrie Underwood performs live at Palais Theatre on June 26, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia.

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Going back home is a common piece of the Thanksgiving puzzle for many adults. Underwood --along with so many of her hometown-focused country peers-- captures this in song that stresses her gratitude for old, country churches in places like Checotah, Okla. Listen here.

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8. "Turkey Chase," Bob Dylan (Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid Motion Picture Soundtrack, 1973)

Promotional shot from 'Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid" showing Kris Kristofferson and Bob Dylan

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There's nothing like a spirited instrumental that's grounded in country and folk tradition to get your feet tapping while your favorite relative is cooking up something good. For that sort of playlist tempo change, look no further than this Dylan deep cut. Listen here.

7. "Rain is a Good Thing," Luke Bryan (Doin' My Thing, 2009)

Recording artist, Luke Bryan appears at The First Annual Big State Festival at The Texas World Speedway in Bryant College Station, Texas on October 13,2007.

Rick Diamond/WireImage

This may not be the most obvious choice for a Thanksgiving song, but what better way of turning a negative into a positive than celebrating rain? Plus, the Thanksgiving tradition began over gratitude for bountiful crops, autumn leaves and harvest moons. Listen here.

 6. "This," Darius Rucker (Charleston, SC 1966, 2010)

AUSTIN, TX - JANUARY 22: Darius Rucker opens for Brad Paisley in concert at The Frank Erwin Center on January 22,2009 in Austin, Texas.

Jay West/WireImage

Along the lines of Garth Brooks' "Unanswered Prayers," Rucker's "This" is a reminder that just because you don't always get what you want, doesn't mean you're headed down the wrong path. After all, some disappointments that seemed devastating in the past landed you at the dinner table on holidays with the best things in your life. This is all driven home by one of Rucker's best official music videos. Listen here.

5. "Thanksgiving Song," Mary Chapin Carpenter (Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas, 2008)

Mary Chapin Carpenter performing at Town Hall on Wednesday night, May 17, 2004.

Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images

This selection is not about gobbling up pumpkin pie, cranberries or other Thanksgiving dinner staples. Side dish serenades aren't exactly her style. Instead, it's a gentle, piano-based song about appreciating loved ones. Listen here.

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4. "But For the Grace of God," Keith Urban (Keith Urban, 1999)

Keith Urban at Farm Aid in Pittsburgh, Pa. on 9/21/02

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Some love songs make the best Thanksgiving songs. With just a guitar and Urban's voice, this message shines: "Through all of the trials and tribulations of life, but for the grace of God go I." In the context of late November, it's a Thanksgiving prayer for what all's right about your current circumstances. Listen here.

3. "Lucky Man," Montgomery Gentry (Some People Change, 2006)

Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry at Sprint and SunTrust presents Sound & Speed - Day2

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One of the best country songs of the past 20 years, "Lucky Man" really drives home how important it is to count your blessings. When it's too easy to complain about what gets you down, take a second to give thanks and praises --to borrow a line from Bob Marley and the Wailers-- for what you have. Listen here.

2. "Blessed," Martina McBride (Greatest Hits, 2001)

Martina McBride during The 28th Annual American Music Awards at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, United States.

SGranitz/WireImage

If Thanksgiving Day had an official theme song for country fans, this would be it. McBride's blessings include the voice of an angel, and she shares that with us while exalting another heavenly gift: her family. Of all these holiday songs, this truly encompasses the meaning of the season. It also suits relative bonding time playlists, along with Sister Sledge's "We Are Family." Listen here.

1. "Coat of Many Colors," Dolly Parton (Coat of Many Colors, 1971)

Live photo of Dolly PARTON circa 1970.

Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

There isn't much more that can be written about "Coat of Many Colors." It's a dang-near perfect country hit performed by a living legend, not to mention a can't miss for this and other Thanksgiving playlists. Like several of Parton's earliest hits, it references her humble upbringing in East Tennessee-- a circumstance that drives her well-documented acts of benevolence for those in need. Listen here.

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READ MORE: Johnny Cash's 'Thanksgiving Prayer' Suits Times of Trouble

This story originally ran on Nov. 24, 2015.

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