Happy Thanksgiving Song, Part 2: “Thanksgiving” by Loudon Wainwright III



“I fall asleep, I have a dream
In it is the family
Nothing bad has happened yet
And everyone is happy


Mother and Father, both still young
And naturally they love us
We’re all lying on a lawn at night
Watching the stars above us
…”


from “Thanksgiving” by Loudon Wainwright III

Our second installation today of songs of Thanksgiving. This one, “Thanksgiving,” written by Loudon Wainwright III, is not really a happy Thanksgiving song. Not at all. And not a surprise coming from Loudon, who is the absolute master at writing songs of authentic dysfunctional families.

But it’s a great one. And one that does reflect the American Thanksgiving with great poignant fidelity.

We bring you today his studio version and a live rendition he did on the BBC. And also, appropriately, a live rendition by his daughter Lucy Wainwright Roche, from Club Passim in Boston.

Lucy Wainwright Roche, “Thanksgiving,” by her dad Loudon.

“Thanksgiving”
By Loudon Wainwright III

Lord every year we gather here
To eat around this table
Give us the strength to stomach as much
As fast as we are able
Bless this food to our use
Though communication’s useless
Don’t let me drink too much wine
Lord you know how I get ruthless

Let us somehow get through this meal
Without that bad old feeling
With history and memory
And home cooking we’re dealing
Remind us that we are all grown up
Adults, no longer children
Now it’s our kids that spill the milk
And our turn to want to kill them

I look around and recognize
A sister and a brother
We rarely see our parents now
We hardly see each other
On this auspicious occasion
This special family dinner
If I argue with a loved one, Lord
Please make me… the winner

All this food looks and smells so good
But I can hardly taste it
The sense of something has been lost
There’s no way to replace it
After the meal, switch on the game
There’s just a few more seconds
But I’m so tired, I need a nap
The guest bedroom bed beckons

I fall asleep, I have a dream
In it is the family
Nothing bad has happened yet
And everyone is happy
Mother and Father, both still young
And naturally they love us
We’re all lying on a lawn at night
Watching the stars above us

Lord every year we gather here
To eat around this table
Give us the strength to stomach as much
As fast as we are able

Loudon Wainwright III, “Thanksgiving,” Live on BBC, 1994

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