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Thu, November 28, 2013
Arlo Guthrie - Alice's Restaurant
Above is the original release.
This is the Motion Picture soundtrack. I have this and play it more, I believe.
"Alice's Restaurant Massacree" is a musical monologue by singer-songwriter Arlo Guthrie released on his 1967 album Alice's Restaurant. The song is one of Guthrie's most prominent works, based on a true incident in his life that began on Thanksgiving Day 1965, and which inspired a 1969 movie of the same name. Apart from the chorus which begins and ends it, the "song" is in fact a spoken monologue, with ragtime guitar backing.
Though the song's official title, as printed on the album, is "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" (pronounced "mass-a-cree"), Guthrie states in the opening line of the song that "This song's called 'Alice's Restaurant'" and that "'Alice's Restaurant'... is just the name of the song;" as such, the shortened title is the one most commonly used for the song today.
In an interview for All Things Considered, Guthrie said the song points out that any American citizen who was convicted of a crime, no matter how minor (in his case, it was littering), could avoid being conscripted to fight in the Vietnam War.
The Alice in the song was restaurant-owner Alice M. Brock, who in 1964 used $2,000 supplied by her mother to purchase a deconsecrated church in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where Alice and her husband Ray would live. It was here rather than at the restaurant—which came later—where the song's Thanksgiving dinners were actually held.
The song lasts 18 minutes and 34 seconds, occupying the entire A-side of Guthrie's 1967 debut record album, also titled Alice's Restaurant. It is notable as a satirical, first-person account of 1960s counterculture, in addition to being a hit song in its own right. The final part of the song is an encouragement for the listeners to sing along, to resist the U.S. draft, and to end war.
"Alice's Restaurant" recounts Guthrie's true, but comically exaggerated, Thanksgiving Day adventure as a satirical, deadpan protest against the Vietnam War draft. On November 25, 1965, the 18-year-old Guthrie and his friend Richard Robbins, 19, were arrested by Stockbridge police officer William "Obie" Obanhein for illegally dumping some of Alice's garbage after discovering the town dump was closed for the holiday. Two days later, they pleaded guilty in court before a blind judge, James E. Hannon. The song describes to ironic effect the arresting officer's frustration at this "typical case of American blind justice", in which the officer was prepared to present "27 8×10 color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us", only to have the judge enter the courtroom accompanied by a seeing-eye dog. In the end, Guthrie and Robbins were fined $25 and told to pick up their garbage.
The song goes on to describe Guthrie's being called up for the draft and the surreal bureaucracy at the New York City induction center at 39 Whitehall Street. Guthrie's first stop is a physical examination, which he passes despite the lingering effects of getting drunk the night before. Guthrie is then sent for a psychological examination; in an attempt to portray himself as insane, he indicates to the psychiatrist that he is homicidal, which (to Guthrie's disappointment) the examiner views favorably. In the final line of questioning before induction, the officer asks Guthrie about any record of arrests. Guthrie tells the story of the littering incident, which proves significant enough a criminal offense to potentially disqualify him from military service. He is first sent to the Group W bench, where those draftees wait who cannot be inducted except under a moral waiver then are rejected as unfit for military service. The ironic punch line of the story is that, in the words of Guthrie, "I'm sittin' here on the Group W bench 'cause you want to know if I'm moral enough to join the Army, burn women, kids, houses and villages after bein' a litterbug." The officer rejects Guthrie for military service, declaring "we don't like your kind" and sending his fingerprints to the FBI.
In the final part of the song, Guthrie tells the live audience that should they find themselves facing the draft they should walk into the military psychiatrist's office and sing, "Shrink, you can get anything you want at Alice's restaurant," and walk out. Guthrie notes that the military would not take it seriously unless "fifty people a day" followed Guthrie's instructions, at which point they would realize that it was "the Alice's Restaurant Anti-Massacree Movement". He then instructs the audience to sing along with him as he performs the chorus, declares to the audience "that was horrible", and demands they do it again, which ends the record.
"Alice's Restaurant" was first performed publicly with Guthrie singing live on New York radio station WBAI one evening in 1967. The song proved so popular that for months afterward the non-commercial station rebroadcast it only when listeners pledged to donate a large amount of money. It has become a tradition for many classic rock radio stations to play the song each Thanksgiving. The song includes a strong anti-gay slur (Guthrie mentions that if only two people take part in the movement, the military will consider them a couple of "faggots" and, because homosexuals were not allowed in the armed forces until 2012, it would get the two out of being drafted) but is nonetheless always presented uncut and the Federal Communications Commission has never punished any radio station for playing the song.
"Alice" was restaurant owner Alice M. Brock, who with husband Ray Brock lived in a former church in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where the song's Thanksgiving dinners were actually held. She was a painter and designer, while Ray was an architect and woodworker. Both worked at a nearby private academy, the music- and art-oriented Stockbridge School, from which Guthrie (then of the Queens, New York City neighborhood of Howard Beach) had graduated. Alice Brock went on to live in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and owns an art studio and gallery at 69 Commercial Street. She was diagnosed with emphysema in the mid-1990s. She illustrated the 2004 children's book Mooses Come Walking, written by Guthrie.
In 1969, Random House published The Alice's Restaurant Cookbook, which featured recipes and hippie wisdom from Alice Brock, as well as photos of Alice and Guthrie, and publicity stills from the movie. A tear-out record was included in the book with Brock and Guthrie bantering on two tracks, "Italian-Type Meatballs" and "My Granma's Beet Jam".
The song was adapted into the 1969 movie Alice's Restaurant, directed and co-written by Arthur Penn and starring Guthrie as himself, Pat Quinn as Alice Brock and James Broderick as Ray Brock, with William Obanhein ("Officer Obie") appearing as himself and the real Alice making a cameo appearance.
The movie was released on August 19, 1969, a few days after Guthrie had appeared at the Woodstock Festival. A soundtrack album for the film was also released by United Artists Records. The soundtrack includes a studio version of the "Massacree", which was originally divided into two parts (one for each album side); a compact disc reissue on the Rykodisc label presents this version of the song in full and adds several bonus tracks to the original LP. Here's the trailer to the movie. Yo can find the WHOLE film on youtube and you don't have to look hard.