It’s that time of year again: Turkey Day! Which means a major break from classes. The never-ending span of midterms is finally done, and we can take a deep breath over the long weekend before the worry of finals begins. But not so fast–some of us are also means traveling, and booking it home can be just as stressful as worrying about multiple choice details.
To honor your right to relax in the face of not-so-light packing and long roads, as well as to rightly celebrate food and family, we’ve compiled a Thanksgiving song list of staff picks to keep you company on your way home (or wherever) to a memorable feast. Please enjoy these ten nostalgic and food-friendly tracks as much as we all do.
1. John Fahey — “Poor Boys Long Way From Home”
Michael, journalist: Anything by John Fahey is ideal road trip music. Fahey’s material is classic guitar/blues/folk fingerpicking, and there’s nothing more American than driving across the country listening to it.
2. Jay-Z & Kanye West feat. Frank Ocean — “Made in America”
Jo, content editor: If your family immigrated to the Americas once upon a time (which we all did, way back when), this song is truly relatable. This anthem alludes to the ever-fleeting American Dream, and Ocean’s hook makes it clear that they’ve all made it. And if you’re celebrating Thanksgiving, you’ve made it one way or another. We’re just thankful for the opportunity, the hospitality, the fruit of… the real life livin’, you know?
3. Primus — “American Life”
Jade, journalist: Thanksgiving is a story of immigration. Appropriately, so is this song. After hearing these stories of the American dream gone awry, what are you thankful for? (Your tickets to the Primus’ New Year’s Eve Bash at the Fox Theater?)
4. No Doubt — “A Little Something Refreshing”
Audrey, editor-in-chief: Before Gwen & friends were splashing around in recycled bathwater as No Doubt and even preceding Ms. Stefani’s famed, hit-album-spawning break-up with bandmate Tony, No Doubt were just a fun, lady-fronted SoCal band trying on the ska genre. Their jaunty, 1992 self-titled debut contains, in classic ska fashion, a silly ode to unhealthy food items (see also: Save Ferris’ “Spam”); and in “A Little Something Refreshing,” we get references aplenty to all forms of refined sugar. Gwen, particularly theatrical in this poorly recorded live version, opens her demand slowly, gathering momentum before rattling off a list of junk food your health-conscious mom has probably well-meaningly deprived you of: “I want some…. pizza coke and ice cream/popcorn cotton candy…” Even if this is not your typical turkey fare, the subsequent chorus is relevant to any Thanksgiving foodie. “That’s not all I could… Eat. I’m hungry,” belts Gwen in the refrain, bringing the fun in top ska form. In just over a minute, it’s the perfect smorgasbord primer to get you excited for the home-style buffet bounty that awaits.
5. Modest Mouse — “Fire It Up”
Parker, journalist: This song is a good one to crank up at the start of a road trip after all the gas, snacks, packing, and potty trips are taken care of, when space finally seems to open up around that first stretch of open road. “Fire It Up” kickstarts your journey with its driving bass line and ratchets up the stoke with a relentlessly upbeat melody. Its visceral imagery provides that power that makes “nowhere” as appealing a destination as wherever you were intent on going.
6. Old Crow Medicine Band — “Wagon Wheel”
Haley, journalist: It’s finally that time again: good ol’ Thanksgiving in the US of A! Make sure you packed your fat pants, and turn up this American classic for the ride home. Meanwhile, I dare you to keep the smile off your face as you sing along to “Wagon Wheel” as you cruise down the highway. Take a deep breath—you can almost smell that turkey in the oven.
7. Spoon — “The Way We Get By”
Clara, journalist: As a German native, it was The O.C.’s soundtrack that introduced me to the Cali lifestyle. It also offered the perfect sound for a long road trip. Spoon’s track captures the ease of looking out through the window at the distant horizon and driving on and on towards it as monumental American landscapes pass you by.
8. Bibio — “À tout à l’heure”
Josh, content editor: The best part of any road trip is letting your mind get lost in the countryside. The dreamy atmosphere of “À tout à l’heure” and its electronic sensibilities make it the perfect audio companion to the late autumn visuals: the sinking sun glinting off your windshield, the Pacific Ocean’s changing hue, California’s fields of gold rushing past you. Just remember to keep your eyes on the road, m’kay?
9. The Proclaimers – “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”
Jason, journalist: Running out of things to say? Tired of playing zitch dog? Getting sick of the friends that you’re stuck in a car with? No problem. Just sing along with The Proclaimers’ “500 Miles.”
10. Talking Heads – “This Must Be The Place”
And last, a track for when you’re almost home. Put this song on as you get close to your old neighborhood and you’ll be ready to feel the seasonal warmth and love.