Ben Rector Starts a New Tradition with “The Thanksgiving Song”

Ben Rector (Photo: Colin Fatke)

It’s not long before the sounds of “White Christmas” and “Let It Snow!” start moving in. Each year, as Christmas Day approaches, an immense, decades-deep backlog of songs dedicated to the holiday fill the air, thoroughly bypassing one of the more universal, U.S. holidays: Thanksgiving. It’s something that always puzzled Ben Rector, so he took it upon himself to open a new holiday music genre with “The Thanksgiving Song.”

Featured on Rector’s upcoming A Ben Rector Christmas Album, “The Thanksgiving Song” is the first, save for Adam Sandler’s “Happy Thanksgiving” musical skit from 1992. Following up Rector’s previous album, 2018’s Magic and recent single “It Would Be You” with Ingrid Michaelson,” recording holiday songs, specifically one centered around Thanksgiving, is an entirely new direction for the artist.

“It’s weird to me that there’s an entire genre that is just Christmas music, and you can bring up an entire palette of sounds around this one holiday,” says Rector. “I love Christmas, but everybody in America, for the most part, celebrates Thanksgiving, and there’s no music around that.”

In crafting “The Thanksgiving Song,” Rector says it was fun to try to figure out how Thanksgiving music would actually sound.

“I didn’t want to just make it sound like a Christmas song, but I definitely wanted it to feel classic,
shares Rector. “Part of that was in the writing process and trying to imagine a Thanksgiving song. Then, in production I was trying to shape some of the sounds and some of the parts and ended up sounding like something out of a Billy Joel-era, which I love.”

Ben Rector (Photo: Colin Fatke)

For Rector, who is now a father of three with a 3-year-old daughter and is newly born twin boys, the holidays are pivotal for creating memories and starting new traditions.

“I don’t think I’m going to start a trend or anything, but there’s a ton of music for this one holiday [Christmas], and there’s not really any music for other holidays,” says Rector. “I would love to put my name in the hat for having the Thanksgiving song that doesn’t exist.”

Rector adds, “What’s crazy is that there’s so much shared experience around Thanksgiving, and a huge pool of nostalgia for everyone around smells and memories that pop up, so it was just interesting to me that no one wanted to put that into a song. Most people in America have some connections with Thanksgiving.”

Rector hopes “The Thanksgiving Song” brings some warmth and cheer long before Christmas, during a time when people can use all the comfort they can get.

“It just felt like there was some magnetism around it and it was something I wanted to say,” says Rector. “Even in these crazy times it felt like a good thing to say.”

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