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Be Thankful For What You’ve Got

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Development

The Front Cover Of The Be Thankful For What You've Got Promo Single Release

The Front Cover Of The Be Thankful For What You've Got Promo Single Release

Be Thankful For What You’ve Got was Daddy G’s idea to cover one an old R&B’ tune. In fact, most of the covers on Massive Attack’s albums are a direct result of Daddy G’s involvement. What he decided on was William DeVaughn’s Be Thankful For What You’ve Got, which had been a one hit wonder for DeVaughn back in the seventies. Tony Bryan who had just recently sung on Any Love (2) who be again drafted to fulfill the same role here.

Additional Info

Be Thankful For What You’ve Got was one of the the first four songs produced for Blue Lines. While not being a major criticism, 3D has expressed that he felt Be Thankful For What You’ve Got was a bit to soft and retro for his tastes.

This would be the second and last time Tony Bryan would sing on a Massive Attack song. He would later go on to work with Lee “Scratch” Perry.

Live Appearances

Be Thankful For What You’ve Got has never once been played live, at least not since the 1994 soundsystem tour, but because details of this tour are quite vague and sketchy, it is unknown rather Be Thankful For What You’ve Got was played or not.

Variations/Remixes

Paul Oakenfold Mix – A remix undertaken by the famous house DJ Oakenfold who would also remix all the other Blue Lines singles except Daydreaming. This would be his final remix for Massive Attack.

Paul Oakenfold Mix

Funky Mix – This rare remix was commissioned by Virgin Records America to promote Be Thankful For What You’ve Got to American radio stations for a possible single release (which ultimately never happened). The remix in question was done by a duo called Chris Stokes and Zyrus Melchor. Included only on a very rare CD promo of Be Thankful For What You’ve Got.

Funky Mix

Instrumental Funky Mix – Exactly like the original Funky Mix sans vocals from Tony Bryan. Included only on a very rare CD promo of Be Thankful For What You’ve Got.

Extended Funky Mix – This extended version of the Funky mix adds just over a minute to the original’s running time. Included only on a very rare CD promo of Be Thankful For What You’ve Got.

7″ No-Rap Version – Another remix produced for American radio promotion by Chris Stokes and Zyrus Melchor. Included only on a very rare cassette promo of Be Thankful For What You’ve Got.

Covered By

The original version of Be Thankful For What You've Got by William DeVaughn released in 1974.

The original version of Be Thankful For What You've Got by William DeVaughn released in 1974.

Several cover versions of Be Thankful For What You’ve Got exist but all are based on the original William DeVaughn song and not the Massive Attack recording even though the Massive Attack cover is probably the most well known of them.

Original Version By William DeVaughn

Notable Quotes

3D on how Massive Attack’s cover of Be Thankful For What You’ve Got relates to the period it was made – “It’s a sentiment for the Nineties. What’s the point in killing people for their Nikes? We’re living in a time where nobody can be satisfied with what they’ve got because of the media. You’re bombarded with stuff to desire all the time” [Melody Maker - Febuary 1992]

Lyrics

Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac. Gangster whitewalls tv antenna in the back. You may not have a car at all. But just remember brothers and sisters. You can still stand tall. Just be thankful for what you’ve got. Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac. Diamonds in the back, sunroof top, diggin the scene. With the gangster lean. For what you’ve got. You may not have a car at all. But just remember brothers and sisters. You can still stand tall. Just be thankful for what you’ve got. Diamonds in the back, sunroof top, diggin’ the scene. With the gangster lean ooh ooh ooh. Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac. Gangster whitewalls TV antenna in the back. You may not have a car at all. But just remember brothers and sisters. You can still stand tall. Just be thankful for what you’ve got. Diamonds in the back, sunroof top, diggin the scene. With the Gangster lean. (x3)

Promo Video

The promo video was banned on British TV for having full frontal nudity.

The promo video was banned on British TV for having full frontal nudity.

This video for reasons of the full frontal nudity contained in it, recieved an “18″ rating from the BBFC. Subsequently it was banned by all TV channels in the UK at the time of it’s release. Somehow, at the time of the release of Eleven Promos, the DVD of it received only a “12″ rating from the BBFC in the UK even though the uncensored video for Be Thankful For What You’ve Got was included on it intact.

The version of Be Thankful For What You’ve Got that is used for the video is the Paul Oakenfold mix and not the original album version. In addition, the video also includes samples of Daydreaming and Safe From Harm (heard on the walkman of the girl at the beginning) and Unfinished Sympathy (heard at the very end of the video).

Baillie Walsh had previously directed for Massive Attack the videos for Risingson and Safe From Harm. Be Thankful For What You’ve Got would be his last video he would direct for Massive Attack until the first of the Splitting The Atom videos in 2009.

Quotes About The Video

A joint statement issued by Massive Attack at the time of the video being banned – “All of our videos have occupied particular situations, both geographical and as locations of the mind. When Baillie Walsh presented this idea we realised it challenged us, both as group and as individuals, and felt it was time to confront questions of morality and hypocrisy. Many rock videos are notoriously sexist, this video was put together by a group of people of different genders and mixed sexual preference. It is intended not to offend, but to confront” [NME Magazine - February 1992]

External Links

Interpretations From SongMeanings.com
Wikipedia Entry
Clip From the 2000 Movie “Bounce” Featuring Be Thankful For What You’ve Got On The Soundtrack