Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"Alice's Restaurant"- Arlo Guthrie's Thanksgiving Classic

It was 44 years ago or maybe 44 years ago on Thanksgiving that Arlo Guthrie went to visit his friends Alice and Ray in their restaurant, but that wasn't the name of the restaurant, its just the name of the song.....and Arlo went on tell the story of his post Thanksgiving feast act of kindness- taking the trash to a city dump and how he was arrested for littering and how it affected his status with Uncle Sam and the draft during those days of the Vietnam War and....whew!  I need to catch my breath! 

Arlo Guthrie's 18 minute musical monologue has the distinction of being the definitive Thanksgiving song- and I don't mean this in a backhanded way, but its by default. Name other song about Thanksgiving....times up! "Turkey Trot" by Little Eva doesn't count.

Arlo is the son of folk legend Woody Guthrie, and claims to have once had a babysitter named Bob Dylan when he was a kid. The story began in Great Barrington, Massachusetts in 1965 when Arlo visited friends Alice and Ray Brock in their home, a deconsecrated church- the Thanksgiving dinner took place at the Brock's home, not at the restaurant they ran, THE BACK ROOM REST in Stockbridge, six miles away.

Arlo recorded the LP ALICE'S RESTAURANT in 1967, and it became an instant FM radio classic at the time. Director Arthur Penn, fresh from his BONNIE AND CLYDE success in 1967, adapted the song into a film in 1969, starring Arlo, Pat Quinn, and the late James Broderick, Matthew Broderick's father. The film had cameos by Pete Seeger, Lee Hays (a member of THE WEAVERS, blacklisted in the 1950's), and William Obanhein, aka "Officer Obie", the arresting officer in Arlo's case.

Arlo is still performing after all these years, and is a proud progressive activist (God bless him). You can find out more about Arlo, including his upcoming shows and activities by clicking here.

For those who are interested, click here for ALICE'S RESTAURANT'S LYRICS.

For even more information on the story of Alice's Restaurant, visit this entry by Dennis Volkert for GateHouse News Service.


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