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Real Thanksgiving

November 01, 2005

As students of American history are aware, the regular celebration of Thanksgiving in this country did not begin unil 1863, and our current use of the fourth Thursday in November was not set by Congress until 1941.

But for those who are interested in both the myth and the reality of the "Pilgrims' Thanksgiving", I offer the following link to a cool Mayflower website.

Anyone out there care to share particularly memorable Thanksgiving songs?

Posted by Jim Pipkin at November 1, 2005 10:25 AM


"May the Light of Love" by David Roth (a truly great song) is often sung as a humanist benediction around the Thanksgiving table.

Posted by: Penny Stanton at November 1, 2005 11:53 AM

Alice's Restaurant is a favorite of mine.

Posted by: Jack Swain at November 1, 2005 05:52 PM

Canadian foksinger Garnet Roger's first solo album (1984) ends up with a simple and touching song, "Thanksgiving Eve". Canada celebrates Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October.

Posted by: Scott Ritter at November 2, 2005 06:40 PM

I like the 19th century Thanksgiving hymn called, I believe, 'Come, ye thankful people, come'. Steeleye Span did a nice a capella version (which they re-titled 'Harvest Home') on their 'Sails of Silver' album.

Posted by: Stephen Ferron at November 3, 2005 02:06 PM

loudon wainwright, surprisingly eneough has a funny one also, not too mention that other day coming soon. good versions on his live disc

Posted by: Wes Foraker at November 3, 2005 03:56 PM

How about Happy Birthday to me. My Bday generally falls the day before, after, or on Thanksgiving. Seriously though, the most wonderful rendition of "Simple Gifts" which is the ultimate Thanksgiving song I heard on a Masterpiece Theatre production of "Moll Flanders." The artist was a guy named Martin Carthy. (Never been able to find a recording of him in the States).

Jim Blum, our folk guru,(or mine, at least) can you find any Martin Carthy recordings for us? Even if they are not about TG I would love to hear that melodic voice again.

Peace out.

Rita Earle (no relation to THE STEVE, although I have a brother Stephen, and a brother John, who are pretty good pickers!)

Posted by: Rita Earle at November 5, 2005 03:25 AM

Martin's a great guy, he and Dave Swarbrick came to town years ago, and I made a complete ass of myself as their opening act. Martin was one of the the founders of Steeleye Span, and you can find his recordings here in the States through a little-known distributor called Devine Celtic Sounds.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at November 5, 2005 06:43 AM

I'll second Jack Swain, the first thing tht came to mind was Alice's Restaurant. I think this means it is time for some ceative soul to create an identity for Thanksgiving.

Posted by: John Solar at November 7, 2005 09:09 PM

Bringing in the Sheaves - yes, it's an old hymn, but very beautiful.

Posted by: Lynn Oatman at November 10, 2005 11:55 AM

"It all started 'bout two Thanksgivin's ago (that's about two years ago on Thanksgivin...." Arlo has been part of my Thanksgiving tradition for almost 40 years.

Posted by: Steve Bulger at November 10, 2005 12:35 PM

One of my buddies did an instrumental of Alice's Restaurant Tuesday night at Fitzgerald's open mic. I haven't heard the song in ages, but we started chatting about it here, and up it pops! Synchronicity I suppose.

Posted by: Jack Swain at November 10, 2005 06:01 PM

a publication that excels at stepping in and back out with such great strides that the times of the pilgrims, what they found and did with 'it' (almost all of it) is kept in mind and set off in light of other major movements of men (dominated women) is counterpunch and a fresh addition is this: November 11, 2005 -- The Rebel King of Bluegrass - Jimmy Martin: an Appreciation --- By MICHAEL NEUMANN

Posted by: Piet Bouter at November 14, 2005 07:08 AM

The Mayflower website that Jim Pipkin pointed to to start this post has fascinating information. There is a lot of mud slinging at a Samuel Gorton, who defended a young women that was accused of smiling during a service. It seems Samuel was a defender of the old Pilgrim ways and fought against the new Pilgrim religious intolerance. It seemed on the beginning the Pilgrims were very idealistic and had chosen a socialist form of personal property ownership. The first winter was terrible, and the native Americans saved their lives. But that was not the first "great" thanksgiving. For the second winter the Pilgrims again had little to show in their harvest. So, wisely, they determined by finding out the hard way the evils of socialism. It sounds so good to share and share alike, but they found and understood that this causes or easily allows sloth, something they deplored. By allowing personal property ownership and rewarded the value of thrift and work, they had a more socially responsible population and for the 3rd winter they had a great bounty and surplus that they could use to feed the less fortunate. This is when they had their first great Thanksgiving we celebrate today. I would hope someone would write a song to move the information along about the false promise of forced socialism. Some have died for this fools gold, I hope we will learn from history.

But back to Samuel, the only reason he could be a renter is because of the change in policy of ownership for the Pilgrims. It is odd that the religious relatives of the Pilgrims back in England removed the property of those who held land in common for the purpose of educating the poor and common folk and providing the equivalent of doctoring and mental health today and redistributed it to their buddies. That is why today you will see personal homes with the names of this abbey or that abbey country club. The social unrest caused because there were now armies of the disenchanted and poor that at one time were cared for and educated in and around those abbeys were now roaming around the countryside causing havoc. It is important to be truly socially responsible, and socialism is not the true working answer for that.

So who is going to take up the cause for poor old misaligned and misunderstood Samuel Gordon? Or was he really just a malcontent and troublemaker? Might make for an interesting tale.

Posted by: John Solar at November 30, 2005 09:12 PM

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