Holidays

7 Songs About Turkeys to Get You in the Thanksgiving Spirit

Some of these songs are about turkeys, the meal, and some about turkey, the animal.
Some of these songs are about turkeys, the meal, and some about turkey, the animal. Alison McLean
Thanksgiving is almost here, and since schools are getting dangerously close to burning copies of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States in defiance of critical race theory, we’ll spare you the Debbie Downer and Francine Factual accounts of how Thanksgiving is a holiday founded on Native American genocide.

Instead, we’ll cave into the societal pressures of reducing the holiday to its bare essentials, whether it be football, cranberry sauce or those two teenage cousins who come back smelling like weed after they leave the house for 45 minutes to “go for a walk.”

And of course, we would be remiss to not mention one other thing that is integral to the identity and image of Thanksgiving: the turkey.

These magnificent tryptophan-filled creatures have somehow become a ubiquitous fixture in Thanksgiving culture, beginning with the odd presidential practice of pardoning a turkey. President Joe Biden just pardoned a turkey named Peanut Butter on Friday afternoon, continuing a tradition started by JFK three days before his assassination.


As we celebrate the exoneration of Peanut Butter and the other turkeys that were luckier than those who'll be eaten on millions of tables this holiday season, let us look back at some songs that were written about turkeys. (Vegans can find a few songs about tofurkey on Spotify.)

Mac Miller, “Turkey Love”

This 22-minute deep cut from the late Mac Miller mentions a litany of different things, from analingus and Channing Tatum (not exactly in that order) to the more important matter of the rapper eating a turkey burger from a restaurant called Turkey World.

Although turkeys are only mentioned in that one bar, Miller still saw fit to call the song “Turkey Love.” And there’s no purer love out there than that. Bob Dylan, “Turkey Chase”
Although this song is an instrumental track, something about it is actually evocative of a turkey chase. While this is one of Bob Dylan’s many deep cuts, it serves as a B-side to one of his most iconic singles, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” “Turnin’ Turkey” (from Rick and Morty)
In an episode of Rick and Morty, the former titular character turns himself into a turkey so he can receive a pardon from the president and turn a clean slate on his checkered criminal record. The president gets wise to this, and in response, gets some men in the military to also turn themselves into turkeys so they can get the pardon and thus thwart Rick Sanchez’s plans.

During the episode, a Toby Keith-esque song plays over a montage of brave men in uniform turning themselves into turkeys in defense of our freedoms.

Gobble gobble, indeed.
“Eat Me” (from Addams Family Values)
This song was a key part of A Turkey Named Brotherhood, a play that was performed by an ensemble in the 1993 movie Addams Family Values. Pugsley Addams plays a turkey who persistently says “Eat me,” causing raised eyebrows from parents in the crowd.


Maybe Wednesday Addams playing Pocahontas didn’t age well, but this song certainly did for its daring take on Thanksgiving from the oft-neglected perspectives of turkeys. Adam Sandler, “The Thanksgiving Song” (from Saturday Night Live)
Some people insist that the early 1990s was the golden age of Saturday Night Live. While that claim is debatable at best, some good moments did come from that era, such as Chris Farley’s legendary Matt Foley sketch or cast member Victoria Jackson finally leaving after overstaying her welcome.

In 1992 (the same year Jackson left and took her annoying brand of musical comedy with her), Adam Sandler dropped by during a Weekend Update segment to sing a song about Thanksgiving that he cowrote with SNL writers Robert Smigel and Ian Maxtone-Graham.

The song turns to absurdist non-sequitur humor as it pays homage to — you guessed it — turkeys. The result was a fortuitously immortal holiday song that became a staple to many people’s Thanksgiving celebrations.

Thelonious Monk, “Stuffy Turkey”
This 1964 track from jazz legend Thelonious Monk is based in part on the Coleman Hawkins composition “Stuffy.” But, you know, Monk decided to make this one about turkeys.

If you’re looking for another instrumental song that matches the Thanksgiving vibe in some inexplicable way, then hey, give this one a shot. Let’s Have a Kiki/Turkey Lurkey Time” (from Glee)
If you’re in the mood to not be in the mood for Thanksgiving, look no further than this song, which has Sarah Jessica Parker for some reason (my girlfriend suggested I add this, and she gave me no context for what is happening in the scene.)
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