William DeVaughn

Be Thankful for What You Got

Song Review by

Magazines during the '70s were replete with back-page ads that promised "we make your songs into hits!" It was the heyday of the singer/songwriter and many aspiring stars and weekend musicians were looking for outlets that would take them out of the mundane. Most of the time, these "vanity recording" firms would end up bilking their clients by producing inferior or cookie-cutter recordings (using the same instrumental tracks many times over while ineptly forcing their clients' lyrics onto them, with pathetic lead vocals to boot). The results of such efforts would more likely end up in the bottom of a music executive's waste basket than at the top of the charts. A phenomenal exception was William DeVaughn's million-selling "Be Thankful for What You Got." The singer/songwriter/government worker approached (with his own 900 dollars) Philadelphia firm Omega Sound, who was able to secure the services of the core rhythm section of MFSB, who'd played on numerous gold records. Beginning with the congas of Larry Washington, the low-key track slides into an organ-based groove that features the fat bass of Ron Baker. DeVaughn's high tenor is very akin to Curtis Mayfield. That, along with the inspiring message, caused some confusion on its initial release. If you listen closely, the song only has two chord progressions, which sort of helped to keep the focus on the lyric's theme. Produced by Frank Fioravanti and arranger John Davis and issued on Wes Farrell's Roxbury label, "Be Thankful for What You Got" sold nearly two million copies, gliding up to number one R&B and number four pop in spring 1974.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Be Thankful for What You Got 1974 Collectables 7:13
No Image 1974
Various Artists
Incentive
No Image 1975
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution
Oldies but Goodies, Vol. 2 [Box] 1987
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 3:28
Golden Oldies, Vol. 11 [Original Sound] 1989
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 3:26
Billboard Top R&B Hits: 1974 1990
Various Artists
Rhino 3:23
Soul Hits of the 70s: Didn't It Blow Your Mind!, Vol. 12 1991
Various Artists
Rhino 3:21
Sounds of the Seventies: AM Pop Classics 1993
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:20
Lowrider Oldies, Vol. 4 1994
Various Artists
Thump Records 3:26
Art Laboe's Dedicated to You, Vol. 5 1994
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 3:25
No Image 1995
Various Artists
Hot Productions 5:00
Art Laboe Killer Oldies 2 1995
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 3:25
Super Box of Soul, Vol. 3 1995
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:29
Old Skoolin' 1996
Various Artists
Quality 0:00
The Best of Disco One Hit Wonders 1996
Various Artists
Hot Productions 7:13
10 Dynamite 1996
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:29
Rare Grooves, Vol. 1: The Originals 1996
Various Artists
Blue Note 4:05
MVP Classic Mellow, Vol. 2 1996
Various Artists
MVP Records 3:20
Players & Hustlers of the 70's: Can You Dig It? 1996
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:29
No Image 1996
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:20
No Image 1997
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:29
Best Sellers of the 60's & 70's 1997
Various Artists
Best Music International 3:28
Old School Mega Mix, Vol. 2 1997
Various Artists
Cold Front Records / K-Tel Distribution 3:26
Blues Brother Soul Sister [Time Music] 1997
Various Artists
Crimson Productions
Heart & Soul 1997
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:43
Get Dancin' 1998
Various Artists
Double Play Records 3:27
Best Sellers of the 70's, Vol. 2 1998
Various Artists
Wise Buy 3:28
Sexy Soul [K-Tel] 1998
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:29
Solid Gold Soul: Classic Soul 1998
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Time / Life Music 3:23
Blaxploitation: The Payback, Vol. 3 1998
Various Artists
Global 7:03
The Best of the Philly Sound 1999
Various Artists
GNP / Crescendo 3:25
Love in the 70's, Vol. 1 1999
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:22
Legends of Music: Soul of the 70s, Vol. 1 2000
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Legends of Music Collection 3:29
Timeless Treasures: Best of Soul 2000
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:28
Paradisiac, Vol. 2 2000
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 3:20
Solid Gold Soul [Castle] 2000
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd. 7:13
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Thump Records 3:19
2001 K-Tel CD Calender 2000
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution
Best of the 70's [Purple] 2000
Various Artists
Madacy 3:29
Smooth Grooves: Steppin' Out 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 7:10
No Image 2001
Various Artists
Varèse Sarabande / Varese 3:28
No Image 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 3:20
Can You Dig It? The '70s Soul Experience 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 3:27
Lowrider Oldies Chrome, Vol. 4 2001
Various Artists
Thump Records 3:26
Lowrider Oldies, Vols. 1-9: Cruisin' Chrome Series 2001
Various Artists
Thump Records 3:26
Love Unlimited 2001
Various Artists
Telstar TV Records 4:01
A Year in Your Life: 1970's, Vol. 3 2001
Various Artists
Definitive 3:20
Soul of the 70's 2001
Various Artists
Madacy 3:28
Three Decades of Soul 2001
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:28
Solid Gold Funk 2002
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:22
Harlem Sessions 2002
Various Artists
Sessions Records 4:46
Back to Breaks: The True Sounds from the Original Block Parties 2002
Various Artists
Blow Recordings 4:46
Ultimate Power of Body & Soul 2002
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:29
Smooth Grooves: Cruisin' Classics 2002
Various Artists
Rhino 3:27
Superbad!: The Soul of the City 2002
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:27
Baadasss Cinema 2002
Original Soundtrack
TVT 3:28
Best of the 70's [Madacy] 2002
Various Artists
Madacy 3:29
Breakdown 2002 Sanctuary 3:29
Lowrider Oldies, Vol. 4-6: Cruisin' Chrome Series 2003
Various Artists
Thump Records 3:26
Radio [Hip-O] 2003
Original Soundtrack
Hip-O 3:26
Golden Oldies, Vol. 11 [Original Sound 2003] 2003
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 3:27
Black Power: Music of a Revolution 2004
Various Artists
Shout! Factory 7:13
American Pimp: Raw Outtakes and the Hard Truth 2004
Original Soundtrack
Sony Music Distribution 7:26
Can't Stop Dancing, Vol. 6 2004
Various Artists
Unidisc 6:56
Funk Hits 2005
Various Artists
Double Play Records 3:30
Soul: A Fool in Love 2012
Various Artists
Bellevue Publishing 3:29
300 Hits: Soul
Various Artists
Bellevue Publishing 3:29
Sweet Soul Music: 23 Scorching Classics From 1974
Various Artists
Bear Family Records 3:28
The Greatest Ever... The 1970's
Various Artists
Bellevue 3:31