Although Arlo Guthrie began playing music in public at the age of 13, it wasn't until he first performed "Alice's Restaurant Massacre" at the Newport Folk Festival in 1967 that his career as a folk musician was established.
One of the most cherished songs of the late 1960's Vietnam protest era, the 18-minute folk anthem stood apart from other music thematically opposed to the war because of its humorous style. While many protest songs of the late 1960's fueled the discontent and anger of those opposed to the war in Vietnam, "Alice" offered a bit of relief.
The song documents events that took place during 1965-66 when Arlo was refused induction into the US Army on the grounds of a criminal conviction for dumping garbage. Each hilarious verse recounts the frustrating details of the event. Listening to the song or reading the lyrics will give you a vivid impression of the attitudes of young people who were opposed to the Vietnam war. The words of the song are a metaphor for the oppression of the police and government in general.
In 1969 the song was made into a full-length motion picture starring Arlo. The movie was filmed at the Old Trinity house in Housatonic, Massachusetts, where the song was actually written. Arlo purchased the landmark building in 1992 and it is used today for a community service facility known as The Guthrie Center.
The son of the legendary folk pioneer Woody Guthrie was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1947. Arlo's style was influenced by his father's music, as well as that of Pete Seeger, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Leadbelly. Arlo, however, developed his own unique approach to songwriting by combining the art of storytelling with traditional folk music. Although best known for "Alice's Restaurant", he has written many other songs and usually spends 10 months out of the year on the road performing his work.
Page author: A.E.