“Alice’s Restaurant” – Arlo Guthrie
OK, folks. This is pure ’60s stuff. The sillyness of this talking blues is just plain fun and has become a Thanksgiving Day tradition. Arlo has stated that this song is more of an anti-stupidity song than an anti-war song and is based on a true incident that occurred on Thanksgiving Day 1965 when Arlo was 18 years old. Subsequently, this song became iconic on college campuses. As a singer, songwriter and lifelong political activist, Arlo was writing and singing protest songs from an early age, following in his father’s footsteps. He also had Ramblin’ Jack Elliott as a friend and mentor (Elliott lived with the Guthrie family for a couple of years). Arlo’s dad, Woody, wrote hundreds of political, traditional, children’s, hobo and Dust Bowl blues which would later influence many folk singers, Bob Dylan being one of the most notable.
At Woodstock, Friday night, August 15th, 1969 Arlo sang ” Coming into Los Angeles”, “Wheel of Fortune”, “Walking Down the Line”, “Oh Mary, Don’t You Weep”, “Every Hand in the Land” and “Amazing Grace”.
One summer, I took my kids to see the church in this song…hope they remember that. They didn’t always pay attention to their history lessons! In 1991, Guthrie bought the church in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and converted it to the Guthrie Center, an interfaith meeting place that serves people of all religions. The center provides weekly free lunches in the community and support for families living with HIV/AIDS as well as other life-threatening illnesses. It also hosts a summertime concert series and Guthrie does six or seven fund raising shows there every year. There are several annual events such as the Walk-A-Thon to Cure Huntington’s Disease and a “Thanksgiving Dinner That Can’t Be Beat” for families, friends, doctors and scientists who live and work with Huntington’s disease (Woody had this disease). He was awarded the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience award on September 26, 1992.