As thousands of families gather this Thursday to give thanks (and to devour scrumptious turkey dinners), it seems appropriate to pause and consider the number of songs that contain expressions of gratitude. Anyone who doubts there are thousands of ways to say “Thank You” need only peruse this venerable list of compositions. From Abba (with “Thank You for the Music”) to ZZ Top, artists of every color and stripe have offered up humble missives of appreciation. Below are 10 such songs that represent the cream of this rich crop.

“Thank You” – Led Zeppelin (1969)

This track from Led Zeppelin’s second album marked the first instance in which Robert Plant wrote all the lyrics to a Zeppelin song. An ode to the singer’s then-wife, Maureen, the song instilled in Jimmy Page the confidence that Plant could handle all of Zeppelin’s future lyric-writing. A staple of the group’s live shows in the early ‘70s, “Thank You” served as a showcase for John Paul Jones’ exemplary keyboard work. Page and Plant revived the song – in mellower form – in 1994 for their Unledded tour.

 

“Thank You” – Simple Plan (2004)

From the start, Simple Plan came off as a family-friendlier version of such punk-popsters as Blink-182, injecting large doses of Cheap Trick-style fun into their brash sound. Though rife with sarcasm, this break-up song features the group’s trademark approach of blending walls-of-riffage with a sprite vocal melody. The track also boasts a splendid bridge, wherein the buzz-saw sonic bluster is ratcheted down to a pastoral, languid tempo.

 

“Thank You Friends” – Big Star (1978)

No other artist has mixed bile and tenderness in quite the way Alex Chilton did. Perhaps Chilton was being ironic, but in this sweetly-rendered ode to his friends, the late Big Star legend expressed straight-ahead gratitude within the framework of a beautifully breezy mid-tempo pop ballad. Against the otherwise bleak backdrop of Sister Lovers, the album from which this track sprang, “Thank You Friends” was a ray of sunshine.

 

"Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" -- Sly and The Family Stone (1969)

This track – released on a double A-sided single that also featured “Everybody is a Star” – is simply one of the greatest funk classics of all-time. Propelled by Larry Graham’s slap bass (an innovative technique at the time) and Freddie Stone’s ringing guitar riff, the song exerted a major influence on artists as diverse as Prince and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Lyrically, the song signaled that darker themes were emerging from Sly Stone, who would unleash that direction fully on the 1971 album There’s a Riot Goin’ On.

 

“Thank You For Sending Me An Angel” – Talking Heads (1978)

This opening track from Talking Heads’ second album was actually written -- and tested in front of audiences -- before the band recorded their first album. Nonetheless, the song was a perfect way to kickstart a disc many regard as the group’s second finest (behind 1979’s seminal Remain In Light). Chris Frantz’s martial drum beat pushed David Byrne’s neurotic vocal delivery – and deliberately skittish guitar – to anthemic heights. Talking Heads later gave the track a prominent spot in their 1984 concert film, Stop Making Sense.

 

“I Thank You” – Sam and Dave (1968) / ZZ Top (1979)

With the exception of Aretha Franklin, no R&B act experienced greater success than Sam and Dave did during the duo’s Stax years. Fittingly, “I Thank You” was their swan song for Stax, although they continued to record for Atlantic in the years that followed. Of course, as every guitarist knows, ZZ Top resurrected the song in superb fashion for their 1979 album, DeGuello. Delivering their version with a slinky, slower tempo, Billy Gibbons and his mates imbued the track with slyly sexual innuendo.

“Thank You Girl” – The Beatles (1963)

Although John Lennon once dismissed “Thank You Girl” as “just a silly song we knocked off,” this early Beatles recording is noteworthy on a couple of fronts. First, it marked the first instance in which the vocals for a Beatles song were double tracked. Second, it was among a handful of early compositions credited to “McCartney-Lennon,” rather than “Lennon-McCartney.” Originally titled “Thank You, Little Girl,” the song was said by McCartney to be a tribute to the Fab Four’s female fans.

“Thank You” -- Alanis Morrissette (1998)

This sole hit single from the follow-up album to Morrissette’s massive-selling Jagged Little Pill disc was written in the aftermath of a soul-searching trip to India. Some fans were put off by the self absorption that characterized the material from which “Thank You” sprang, but the video for the song – which featured a naked Morrissette strolling through a city street and riding on a bus – created a stir. The song was nominated for a 2000 Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

“Thnks Fr Th Mmrs” – Fall Out Boy (2007)

One of the best of the emo-pop bands who emerged several years ago, Fall Out Boy scored double-platinum success with their breakout album, From Under The Cork Tree. This song, from that album’s follow-up, Infinity On High, typified the group’s galloping pop-rock style. Lyrically, the song exemplified the navel-gazing, often soap-opera-ish themes that defined the emo movement. Fall Out Boy bassist Pet Wentz said the song “is about loving a girl so much that being so jealous of her, you just want to [ingest her].”

“Thank You” – The Redwalls (2005)

This Beatles-esque ballad from the should-be-stars, The Redwalls, exemplifies one of the many strong facets of the Chicago-based band’s sophisticated pop style. Mixing infectious melodies redolent of the ‘60s British Invasion (think Badfinger or The Dave Clark Five) with a Stax vibe, the group brings to mind what The Raspberries and the Black Crowes might have sounded like, should those two bands have joined forces. Small wonder The Redwalls rely on ES-335s and Les Pauls to craft their trademark sound.