throwback thursday: arlo guthrie

It’s almost thanksgiving!!

And if you are like me then you love thanksgiving. I make a pretty bad ass turkey with all the trimmings. If I do say so myself…

Anyway in addition to my turkey I always listen to Arlo Guthrie’s thanksgiving classic “Alice’s Restaurant”.

It’s kind of a tradition.

The song itself is one of the funniest songs(?) in the talking story tradition. It’s right up there with “Talkin’ Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues” and “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues“. And like the latter of these, it is surprisingly political.

Most people that listen to it on thanksgiving listen for the funny account of littering in Massachusetts and don’t tend to take account of the political aspects. But really this song focuses just as much on the Vietnam war draft as it does on thanksgiving.

And as such it is a certain slice of life in 1967.

I was not just a fan of his thanksgiving massacree but also his other songs too. And not just the “Motorcycle Song” – which is also but funny – but also his more ‘regular’ songs. Like “Chilling of the Evening” which is a beautiful song in the best of the 60’s folk-y style of Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez. I’m also a big fan of the erstwhile drug trafficker’s anthem, “Coming in to Los Angeles“.

But this is post about Alice. Remember Alice?

Check this out: “Sargeant, you got a lot a damn gall to ask me if I’ve rehabilitated myself, I mean, I mean, I mean that just, I’m sittin’ here on the bench, I mean I’m sittin here on the Group W bench ’cause you want to know if I’m moral enough join the army, burn women, kids, houses and villages after bein’ a litterbug.”

Right on, Arlo! The contradiction of the military right there.

I also recommend checking out the movie. It’s actually pretty fun. I saw Arlo play one time in the early 1990’s and his voice was still in great shape and though it’s been awhile since the 90’s I’ve heard he’s still real good. So check him out if you get a chance and in the meantime, enjoy “Alice’s Restaurant” in all it’s glory and have a great thanksgiving next week!

And remember: If you wanna end war and stuff, you gotta sing loud!

Dan Sharber wrote this and would like to wish you all a great thanksgiving day! Genocidal colonialism aside, let’s eat!

1 comment
  1. One of the great songs. Thank you.


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