In honor of Thanksgiving, Holdcom is spotlighting classic songs that, over the years, have redefined the national holiday.
Alice’s Restaurant Massacree is an 18 and a half minute long acoustic monologue written and performed in 1967 by legendary folk singer Arlo Guthrie. The song tells the story of how Arlo Guthrie and his friend Richard Robbins were arrested after illegally dumping trash after Thanksgiving Dinner at their friend Alice Brock’s “restaurant” (an all but abandoned church in Great Barrington, Massachusetts).
The event soon escalated to a farcical court case where they presented visual evidence to a blind judge, and then Guthrie’s “dismissal” from potential service in Vietnam for having committed a crime, quipping that “I’m not moral enough to join the army, burn women, kids, houses and villages after bein’ a litterbug).
The song became an immediate hit, championing the anti-draft movement of the late 1960’s. Arlo Guthrie has remade several versions: a remake in 1997, and a new track, titled The Alice’s Restaurant Multi-Colored Rainbow Roach Affair in 2005. Guthrie purchased the Church in 1991, transforming it into the Guthrie Center, a venue for folk musicians, interfaith worship, and troubadour festivals – and every Thanksgiving they provide a home cooked meal for the community.
So while we are all slouching under the weight of your Thanksgiving meal, we can only be grateful for the inspiring social message, and historical influence, of Alice’s Restaurant.