With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up, November offers a chance to slow down and reflect. Given all that is going on in the world, this is certainly a tough time for all of us. The circles of people in our lives — whether colleagues or friends or family members — can be an important source of connection and comfort.

This Thanksgiving, I am looking forward to spending time with family and friends, to resetting and resting, and to actively contemplating and expressing gratitude — including to all of you. Wherever you are across the University of California system, I am grateful for you and for the important work that you do to make our teaching, research, and public service mission a reality every day. In a world grappling with so much pain and suffering, the University of California and the people who make it what it is are a source of hope and comfort to me and to so many others.

In the spirit of that gratitude, I want to share a short playlist that might serve as a soundtrack for your own rest and contemplation this month. For me, music has always been a source of great joy and a lens that allows me to come back into focus. I am often asked to share what I’m listening to lately. Here are a few links to music that means a lot to me — I hope it keeps you company and boosts your spirits.

  1. Smokey Robinson on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert just last month — what a legend! Check out “Cruisin” at the 23-minute mark on this video.
  2. “Wake Up Everybody” by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes
  3. “Banana Boat (Day-O)” by Harry Belafonte, who died earlier this year. Belafonte, in addition to being a great artist, was a civil rights activist and a humanitarian.
  4. “(Sweet, Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone” by Aretha Franklin
  5. “Nature at Play: J.S. Bach’s ‘Cello Suite No. 1’ (Live from the Great Smoky Mountains)” by Yo-Yo Ma — A beautiful video, celebrating nature and humanity.
  6. “Simply the Best by “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll” Tina Turner, who also died this year — I’ll miss this national treasure.

Happy Thanksgiving and Fiat Lux!

Michael V. Drake, M.D.
President
University of California