ELDER MUSIC: Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones
You, Me and Social Security 2012 – Part 1: The Problem

45 Years of Alice's Restaurant

It was 45 years ago this this month – 1967 – that Arlo Guthrie's musical account of how his crime, littering, led to his rejection by the U.S. Army was released under its official name, Alice's Restaurant Massacree.

I remember it well.

Living in Houston at the time, I produced my then-husband's radio talk show, the only one on what was otherwise a 21-hour-a-day rock-and-roll station. That meant a large portion of our programming, the part not political, consisted of musical talk and musical guests which, at one time or another, included Arlo Guthrie and the restaurant proprietor herself, Alice Brock.

We played the song a lot at home (it was also the year of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band that was in equal rotation on our personal turntable) and it wasn't long before I knew Guthrie's monologue by heart.

In the years since then I have occasionally listened again but not all that often. Nevertheless, to my surprise, I can still sing along (well, I suppose I mean talk along) without a hitch.

”Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago, it was two years ago on Thanksgiving when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the restaurant but Alice doesn't live in the restaurant. She lives in the church nearby the restaurant...”

How'd I do? I wish my short-term memory (you know, 10 seconds walking from bedroom to kitchen) worked as well.

The reason I discovered I still know the whole monologue is that on Friday, TGB reader Bev Carney sent a link to a story last week on CBS News about the song's 45th anniversary being this year and an interview with Arlo. Here it is:

It surprised me to learn that the song has become a Thanksgiving anthem, but it makes sense and I wonder how, through all the years I've been posting some kind of banal holiday image here for Thanksgiving, I'd never thought to play Alice's Restaurant for us instead. I'm pretty sure that's what I'll do from now on.

In case you missed it this year, here's the original 18-plus minutes – a fine, ol' song that nicely captures the feeling of an era that, to me, doesn't seem like so long ago, although it is:

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Herchel Newman: Out Little Girls


There was something about the 60s that made that time more memorable than the decade before, for sure!

I, child of the 60's, loved this re-hearing of Alice's Restaurant. On a separate topic- I just heard on MSNBC that Romney took the elder's vote. True? I got depressed and had to tell you how important your voice is. Any stats on this?

Group W bench indeed. LOL George still knows every word too.

Can't remember hearing the entire 18 minutes, such is the dilemma of a 60-something. Great memories!

Tom Brokaw says the 1960s run from 1963 to 1974. I have to agree with him, because I don't think those first years of the 60s were "the 60s."

The 50s and 60s (whenever they were) were definitely iconic, and replete with strong memories.

The 70s=polyester. The 80s and 90s are a blur; maybe I was just working too hard to notice.

Grandmother (Mary)...
Yes, to my ceaseless chagrin, the majority of elders voted for Mitt Romney:

Age 50-64: 52%
Age 65 and older: 56%

It is a mystery to me how any elder could vote for a person whose stated goals were to end Medicare and Social Security.

Having been heavy into making babies and being a good wife to my Professor hubby, the 60's culture was not part of my daily life. So now, 45 years later, it's such a hoot to hear this iconic piece for the first time. Thanks for filling in a cultural blank. Will look forward to this new T'giving tradition.

Unfortunately, elder's fear of the disappearance of "real" America was exploited, overwhelming logic.

KLOL? Did you know Jackie MacCauley, Ed Beacham, Crash, Dan Earhardt - who turned the station off one night? Ah, see what memories Arlo brings back.

This song was in regular rotation in our house in those days. So much so that our son, age 2 at the time, would jump up and down and yell, "Kill! Kill! Kill!" at the appropriate time. He also was a Bob Dylan fan and knew when to shout, "EVERYBODY must get stoned!"

"...an era that, to me, doesn't seem like so long ago, although it is..."

That's a great line! Maybe it's not as timeless as Arlo's "...twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back
of each one," but it's a great line.

Ronni, we do have something else in common! My ex and I used to force our kids to listen to the ENTIRE 18 minutes every Thanksgiving when our favorite radio station would play Alice at noon.

I seem to recall that usually we were riding in a car going somewhere....But now they love it, too!

I doubt if my now-husband has ever heard it, so I will play it for him!

I also did not know this was now part of the Thanksgiving celebration. And it was fun to hear about what you were doing at that time.

No, I don't know those people. Our station was KILT.

I was living in Canada at the time, along with many other ex-pats. We listened to this every year. Thank you for reminding me of all those good times.

I have listened to this through thick n thin since the day it came out on Thanksgiving ! It has become a tradition in my family and this year had a special place with thoughts for Arlos recently departed better half Jackie! I will continue the tradition for I hope nigh on another 45 yrs through the hearts if my children an grand children who listen with me now!

I never know that was a Thanksgiving song. I had dinner with Alice Brock many moons ago at Ciro's Restaurant in Provincetown. The song was already popular. My little daughter did fall asleep in her pasta, poor dear, and that was a memorable aspect of that evening.

Oh wonderful memories, Ronni, especially with the US "dodgers" who we partied with back in the day in Toronto.


I'm a generation ahead of you Baby Boomers, but I identify with "the '60s" much more than I do with my own "Silent Generation" era (although I like both Arlo's music and his father's). The '50s were basically a bummer--unless you're white and male!

As far as voting, I agree with Ronni. I think the elders who voted for Romney either (1) refused to believe that he'd actually destroy SS and Medicare or (2) just didn't identify with the 47% of Americans who "didn't matter". In any event they voted against their own best interests. I don't get it, either!

Since my novel takes place in the time period of Arlo's dad Woody, I am a fan of both. It's always fun to see how talent (musical or otherwise) and integrity, too, are passed down from parent to child.

I love the movie and this song these were the best times and we seemed to make sense not like today.

Oh, of course. KILT was the biggest AM station for a long time. I'd forgotten it!

My husband loves this song...and plays it every Thanksgiving. It never did a lot for me. Our son and daughter-in-law are big fans of Woody Guthrie, and we now have a 3 year old granddaughter named Guthrie. My husband never would have foreseen that as he listened to that song all of those years!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)