Be Thankful for What You Got  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

"Be Thankful for What You Got" is a song written and first performed by William DeVaughn.

DeVaughn wrote "Be Thankful for What You Got" in 1972, and paid $900 for its recording at the Sigma studio in Philadelphia. Remarkably, the session featured the MFSB group — Norman Harris (guitar), Earl Young (drums), Ron Baker (bass), and Vince Montana (vibes) — and was produced by Allan Felder. The owner of Sigma, Frank Fioravanti, was impressed, and secured its release on the Roxbury Records record label.

The record sold nearly two million copies on its release in spring 1974, reaching #1 on the U.S. R&B charts and #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, selling a million copies. With a sound and content influenced by Curtis Mayfield, its simple and encouraging lyrics hit home, to the extent that it became featured on gospel radio stations:

Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac
Diamond in the back, sunroof top
Diggin' the scene with a gangsta lean
Gangsta whitewalls, TV antennas in the back
You may not have a car at all
But remember brothers and sisters
You can still stand tall
Just be thankful for what you got.

DeVaughn's second album Figures Can't Calculate (TEC, 1980) included a remake.

The song was covered in 1991 by the British electronica band Massive Attack on their album Blue Lines and by Yo La Tengo on its 1997 "Little Honda" EP.


  • Nathan, David. Notes for William DeVaughn: Be Thankful for What You Got: A Golden Classics Edition. Collectables [sic] CD COL-5271. Collectables [sic] Record Corp., 1994.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Be Thankful for What You Got" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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