This post probably should have been written somewhere around Thanksgiving, because Alice's Restaurant Massacree is a song based on a Thanksgiving story. Yep, it's an 18+ minute song written by Arlo Guthrie back in 1967. It was my introduction to Arlo Guthrie, who is the son of the iconic folk singer, Woody Guthrie.
Arlo is iconic in his own right. Besides Alice's Restaurant Massacree, he wrote dozens and dozens of amazing folk / folk-rock songs, many about social causes. And he's been a presence in the folk scene since the late 60s.
Born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1947, Arlo went to a private school in Clinton Hill until 8th grade. He then went to high school in Stockridge, Massachusetts. He then did a brief stint in college at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana. But it was a trip back to Stockbridge in 1965 that set the stage for Alice's Restaurant Massacree. Arlo claims that the song (with some minor embellishments) is true.
I think that I saw Arlo way back in the day, probably sometime around 1972 or so. And I definitely saw him in Northampton, Massachusetts, at the Academy of Music Theater in 2004 or so when Molly was in college up at Amherst. Andi and I were staying in a hotel in Northampton, and after having dinner with Molly and a few of her pals, Andi and I headed back to Northampton. And lo and behold, I noticed that Arlo Guthrie was appearing that night at the theater across from our hotel. The show had started an hour or so before we noticed that Arlo was there, but we decided to go in anyway. The nice folks at the theater let us in for free since we had missed more than half the show. So we settled into some empty seats in the back and listened to 45 minutes or so of Arlo. Just Arlo and his acoustic guitar. So good.
We didn't hear him play Alice's Restaurant Massacree that night. Maybe because it's an 18 minute song. But, still, the song is, well, iconic. And watching Arlo perform it live must be amazing. So, since we can't do that right now, let's do the next best thing. Let's watch Arlo on a YouTube video sing Alice Restaurant's Massacree in its entirety. I urge you to stick around for the entire performance. And I'm asking you to comment on this post, telling me if I should grow my hair like Arlo's was in 2005 when this version of the song was recorded at Farm Aid. I mean, it's pretty awesome, and I'm just a little bit jealous.
Arlo doesn't get a heck of lot of radio airplay these days, but WXPN will play a few of Arlo's songs every now and again. He still tours, though. His band includes his son, Abe Guthrie. And Abe's son, Krishna, a drummer, also toured with Arlo for a short time.
In any event, here is Song 27: Alice's Restaurant Massacree by Arlo Guthrie. And here, as an added bonus, is a trailer from the movie "Alice's Restaurant," obviously based on the song, that was made in 1969, starring, yep, Arlo Guthrie. And, yes, I saw it. It was good. You know, in a hippie kind of way.