Alice’s Restaurant–A Rock and Roll Turkey Day Tradition


On Thanksgiving 1965, folk singer Arlo Guthrie was caught illegally dumping half a pickup truck of trash in Stockbrook, Massachusetts and was arrested. This rubbish arrest supposedly made the 18 year old ineligible to be drafted for questionable morals. Guthrie turned this small town saga of small town saga of stupidity into a tongue in cheek 18 minute spoken blues song in 1967.

This humorous folk song was so popular in its day that Arlo Guthrie made a film about “Alice’s Restaurant” in 1969. To this day, album oriented rock radio stations will play the song on Thanksgiving. This might be due to the length of the song, which interferes with most commercial cycles. Or perhaps it was played because there was no ratings book over the holiday. Now it just seems like a tradition that has a tangential Turkey Day connection.

I remember hearing “Alice’s Restaurant Massacre” on 101 FM  WRIF in Detroit during the late 1970s. But with the draft long abolished and American in retreat from military engagements after Vietnam, this song lost its sting and was just a quirky rambling ditty.
Guthrie stopped playing it in concert for a while but resumed playing it after its 30th anniversary but now the folk singer says it’s more about idiocy than it’s anti-war aura.   The song’s association with idiocy was bolstered by serial killer Rodney Acala insisting on playing the entire 18 minute song as part of his pro-se defense. Acala was convicted in 2010.

You can get anything you want, at Alice’s Restaurant
Excepting Alice
You can get anything you want, at Alice’s Restaurant
Walk right in it’s around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want, at Alice’s Restaurant

Da da da da da da da dum

At Alice’s Restaurant.

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About dcbarroco

DCBarroco: The surreal musings of a "party animal" living Between the Beltways, whose favorite contact sport may be politics, but who also has interests that are not poll driven, who thinks beyond the next spin cycle and who will caucus with diverse special interest groups.

Posted on November 24, 2011, in Art, History, Humor, Law, Video and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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