Archive for Woody Guthrie

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Arlo Guthrie & ‘Alice’s Restaurant’

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , on November 17, 2012 by 30daysout

Editor’s Note: From a blog post appearing originally in 2010. This is a classic! The album, not the blog post.

We have dusted off some of our own all-time favorite albums from our own collection, and today we want to share one that’s perfect for the Thanksgiving holiday – Alice’s Restaurant, from Arlo Guthrie.

The title song is of course an American classic – and a song played by many radio stations on Thanksgiving Day.  It’s a true story about a 1965 Thanksgiving when Arlo, the son of legendary songwriter and folksinger Woody Guthrie, and his friends were arrested for littering.  He eventually turned the tale into a story-song that ends with a timely protest sentiment, and … well, I’m sure you have heard it.

Guthrie debuted “Alice’s Restaurant” at the Newport Folk Festival, then he played it on NYC public radio station WBAI in the spring of 1967.  The station was flooded with requests for replays of the song and played it more often than anything else – later, during their annual fundraiser, station personnel promised to play it if a certain amount of money was pledged and later, to NOT play it if a certain amount was pledged.

Anyhow, Guthrie himself tinkered with the format of the song and even occasionally performed a “sequel” – titled “The Alice’s Restaurant Multi-Colored Rainbow Roach Affair,” he played it a few times live on WBAI.  Reprise Records officially released the LP Alice’s Restaurant in 1967 with the original “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” recorded live someplace.   The song clocks in at over 18 minutes and takes up the entire Side One of the record.  Even though hip FM stations played it, Reprise inexplicably released a shorter version on single.  Titled “Alice’s Rock and Roll Restaurant” and produced by Van Dyke Parks, this one took a few verses from the song and placed it over a generic blues-rock beat and completely changed the feel and intent of the song.

Flip over the album and there are six songs that are if not more conventional, at least they fit the folk rock style of the era.  “Chilling of the Evening” is a ballad with instrumentation more typically found on an album by any of the then-current pop singers of the day, like maybe Glen Campbell or Jim Nabors.  “I’m Going Home” and “Highway In The Wind” are both songs with a Byrds-like feel, and “Ring Around A Rosie Rag” is a bit of hippie jug-band nonsense but good fun nevertheless.   And of course, there’s the first chapter of “The Motorcycle Song,” which had its own sequels (including one on the 1968 followup LP Arlo).

Shortly after Guthrie appeared at Woodstock in 1969, he showed up in the Arthur Penn-directed movie Alice’s Restaurant.  None of the performances on the original Alice’s Restaurant album were in the movie, but the film and the ensuing soundtrack featured a full-length studio version of the title song.  In 1995, Guthrie re-recorded the entire Alice’s Restaurant album, complete with an updated (and even LONGER) version of the title song.

Guthrie only occasionally performs “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” live these days, but on Thanksgiving Day you can almost certainly find a radio station playing that original version.

So let’s enjoy some of the other incarnations of “Alice’s Restaurant” as well as a couple other tunes off the original album.  Now Arlo has been nice enough to record many versions of his most famous song – we are thankful for that and don’t want to be greedy on Thanksgiving … so we’re going to stream most of ’em.  That way you can hear them all!

Listen: The original “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” (1967)

MP3: “I’m Going Home”

MP3: “Ring Around A Rosie Rag”

MP3: “Highway In The Wind”

HOLIDAY BONUS: A harvest of “Alice’s Restaurant” versions and sequels!

MP3: “Alice’s Rock and Roll Restaurant” (1967 single)

MP3: “The Alice’s Restaurant Multi-Colored Rainbow Roach Affair” (1967 radio performance)

Listen: “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” (studio version) (1969)

MP3: “Alice’s Restaurant (30 Years Later)” (1995)

Listen: “Remembering Alice” (2004)

Listen: “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree (40th anniversary)” (2005)

Arlo Guthrie, remembering “Alice’s Restaurant” on NPR’s “All Things Considered”

YouTube: The Group W bench from the movie Alice’s Restaurant – The official Arlo Guthrie website

Blog tributes

The great music blog Aquarium Drunkard pays tribute to “Alice’s Restaurant”

Wow, That’s A Good Song: Arlo Guthrie – “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” from the blog How’s My Living?

From the movie.

Vinyl Tap Radio reviews the 1967 album

Squidoo has an illustrated version of the original “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”

Marketing Calls has the printed lyrics

Hippie Chick tells the story in great detail

Suite 101 gets to the truth behind the story of “Alice’s Restaurant”

Morello, Outernational protest Arizona law with free song

Posted in News with tags , , on June 10, 2010 by 30daysout


Former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello joins the politically charged New York rock group Outernational on a new recording of Woody Guthrie’s immigration ballad “Deportees” in response to Arizona’s recent law targeting illegal immigrants.

“We recorded ‘Deportees’ with Tom Morello … to stand with all the people courageously fighting back against these unjust and immoral laws,” Outernational’s Miles Solay said. “Outernational is about a whole new world, a world without borders and nations. Todos somos illegales. We are all illegals.”

Morello, long known for his own politically provocative music with

Tom Morello

Rage, the Nightwatchman and Street Sweeper Social Club, said “Prejudice and ignorance are at the core of Arizona’s recent immigration legislation and Woody Guthrie’s ‘Deportees’ was written to combat just that sort of prejudice.”

A 1948 plane crash near Los Gatos Canyon in Central California that killed 28 Mexican migrant workers and four Americans inspired Guthrie to write the song.  The report of the crash in the New York Times listed the names of the three flight crew members and a security guard, but referred to the Mexican workers only as “deportees.”  The song was originally popularized by Guthrie’s friend Pete Seeger and subsequently covered by numerous artists including Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, Guthrie’s son Arlo, Bruce Springsteen, the Kingston Trio, Los Super Seven, Dolly Parton and the Byrds.

MP3: “Deportee” by Outernational w/Tom Morello

Outernational official website

Heroes, Villains and Bob Dylan

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2009 by 30daysout


Bob Dylan has written many songs about real people – some good, most bad.  We take a second look at some of the real-life characters who’ve populated Dylan songs over the years; this is kind of a sequel to an earlier post which addressed the same subject.  Thanks to writer and fellow blogger Ken Shane for encouraging this further exploration.

Emmett Till was a 14-year-old black kid from Chicago who went to stay with his uncle in Mississippi in 1955.  He supposedly made some lascivious remarks to a white woman.  Her husband and his half-brother beat the boy, gouged out an eye and shot him.  They dumped the body in the Tallahatchie River, but authorities captured the murderers.  Of course, they were acquitted by an all-white jury even though they admitted they killed Till.

MP3: “The Death Of Emmett Till”

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