By Erin Christie
When attempting to fall into the “holiday spirit” as the nights grow longer and the days grow colder, we can often find ourselves delving back into our expansive music libraries, searching for just the right tracks to put us in the holiday state-of-mind. Whether they are tracks that take on a distinct sense of nostalgia, reminding us of times when they were sung around the dinner table on a chill autumn’s eve, or songs that simply emit the same utter warmth and light associated with the season (despite those traits not being present in a literal sense), music plays a huge part in defining the season, whether we realize it or not.
Music is tasked with an important role throughout much of our lives, no matter the season and no matter the time of year, but especially so as the seasons begin to change. When transitioning from summer to fall, we soon find ourselves more-or-less straying away from what we compiled in our beach weather playlists and instead, turning toward the warm embrace of songs oozing pumpkin spice and reminding us of home as opposed to summer days by the pool and ice-cold lemonade. These songs, in a way, become a defining part of everyday life, becoming the soundtrack to our every triumph and mishap and throughout our holistic growth and experience of the world around us - the changing of the seasons, the changing of the times, and the arrival of important dates and milestones, autumn favorite, Thanksgiving, among them.
For many living in the States, Thanksgiving is a holiday during this pivotal time of year that tends to stick out like a sore thumb: defined by an out-pouring of love, infinite gratitude, and what seems like enough home-cooked food to feed an entire army. Thanksgiving has become a fall favorite for a vast part of the population. The holiday within itself remains a date shrouded by a cloud of what makes autumn such an enjoyable period for many: it is a time surrounded by family and friends, a warm, home- cooked meal, and an atmosphere coated in a delightfully warm glow, exuding pure content and exuberance.
Thanksgiving, most notably, is a time defined by familial love.
The Cranberries’ lead singer, Dolores O’Riordan, describes her own childhood and relationship with her family through their track “Ode to My Family” (1994). Though slightly difficult to admit at times, every family has its dysfunctions and difficulties, and O’Riordan describes such here, bringing about a sense of reliability to those listening at home. Despite those faults- the periods of missing one another, worrying about whether or not our loved ones truly care about us, and more - she still maintains that her family is important to her, as anyone’s is to them as well. During the time of Thanksgiving, family becomes especially prevalent as we reflect on what we are most grateful for in this lifetime. Of course, not everyone’s family is perfect but even so, our family and those relationships greatly impact us as people and that is such an important thing.
Hippo Campus’ “Warm Glow” (2017), as the title itself suggests, emits a sort of comforting warmth that is difficult to shake. Like the secure embrace from one you love, vocalist, Jake Luppen, perfectly embodies time spent with the ones you love - whether intended or not - through the lyrics in the chorus: “Warm glow morning soaked in pastel tea/ Soulful, soulful kids stamped to the concrete,” creating an image of the peaceful sky draping over family reunions and moments spent hand-in-hand with dear friends and family that so many can recall for themselves. Through written with an entirely different context in mind, Hippo Campus still manages to effortlessly relay an air of palpable nostalgia- for times of a purer nature, for times spent wishing for peace, and for times spent joining together with those we hold close to our hearts for security against the harsh world around us.
With the holidays approaching,
such brings about a sort of home- coming as flights become booked, heavily-packed trains approach platforms country-wide, and people prepare to return to their families, as depicted perfectly in Leon Bridges’ “Coming Home.” Emanating a purely home-y, 60s sound to a T, Bridges explains the sweet love he has with his partner and he wants to be around for her. A huge part of our relationships with others consists of that closeness, that willingness to be there for the other and give our “all” no matter what. During the holiday season in particular, we are reminded of just how important and vital these sorts of relationships are- how is it important to recognize just how meaningful it is to be surrounded by people who want to be there for you and love you no matter what. During the holidays, we are brought back to our homes to see those loved ones and to be reminded of those strong bonds which is something that is incredibly beautiful.
Classics, Big Star, have created the perfect anthem in support of the undying love that we all have for our friends respectively with their track, “Thank You Friends” (2009). During the holiday season, we spend time in reflection, recalling what we are most thankful for in this lifetime, and as Big Star notes, we often “rejoice to the skies” because of the friends that we have somehow had the honor to make over the years. As this song opens, lead singer, Alex Chilton, croons “Thank you, friends/ Wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you.”. Even in the darkest of times, when we feel abandoned or betrayed, our friends are always there to lift us up, give us a pat on the back, and help us move on, and that is something that is truly beautiful and something that we should definitely be thankful for (during the holidays and not).
She & Him, the musical duo of the infamous Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, shelters the light-hearted and love-soaked “Home” within their 2010 release, Volume Two. Describing the connections that people make with one another- whether in a romantic sense or otherwise- this track details the importance of those simple moments spent simply sitting with another, staring at nothing. “It doesn’t get better than home,” Deschanel chimes soothingly, noting the way that whenever with the one you love, you can truly be home, that person being the best comfort you could ever have in the world. The holidays are truly defined by those sorts of relationships: your heart is tied symbolically to those friends and family that you have, and in that sense, even when you aren’t physically “home,” when with them, it can feel as if you are, making the times spent with them truly important.
Essentially, Thanksgiving is a holiday defined by so much more than an extravagant meal, but rather, it is the culmination of the familiar concepts of love, belonging, comfort, security, and warmth all wrapped into one. Along with spending time with those dear to us during this small period each year, we are also brought to remember what we are most grateful for in this world, whether that be those people that we are surrounded by or the great tunes that we have the chance to listen to day in and day out.