Alice's Restaurant by folk musician Arlo Guthrie is not only a song, it's also a movie (Can you imagine putting enough storyline for a great full-length movie into 18,5 minutes?).
So its a movie roughly about the same thing as the song: To be not moral enough to go to Vietnam 'cause of littering.
It's a great movie, with a great soundtrack by Arlo Guthrie.
And, as mentioned before, it's the reason why Nixon had to leave the white house, cause he wanted no one to know him listening to anti-american hippie singer Arlo Guthrie. The full story told by Arlo himself is downloadable from, on the thanksgiving live recording.

LEE -- Because they couldn't find a dump open in Great Barrington, two youths threw a load of refuse down a Stockbridge hillside on Thanksgiving Day.

Saturday, Richard J. Robbins, 19, of Poughkeepsie, N. Y., and Arlo Guthrie, 18, of Howard Beach, N. Y., each paid a fine of $25 in Lee District Court after pleading guilty of illegally disposing of rubbish. Special Justice James E. Hannon ordered the youths to remove all the rubbish. They did so Saturday afternoon, following a heavy rain.

Police Chief William J. Obanhein of Stockbridge said later the youths found dragging the junk up the hillside much harder than throwing it down. He said he hoped their case would be an example to others who are careless about disposal of rubbish.

The junk included a divan, plus nearly enough bottles, garbage, papers and boxes to fill their Volkswagen bus.

"The stuff would take up at least half of a goodsized pickup truck," Chief Obanhein said.

The rubbish was thrown into the Nelson Foote Sr. property on Prospect Street, a residential section of Stockbridge consisting largely of estates on the hill across from Indian Hilil sic School.

Chief Obanhein told the court he spent "a very disagreeable two hours" looking through the rubbish before finding a clue to who had thrown it there. He finally found a scrap of paper bearing the name of a Great Barrington man. Subsequent investigation indicated Robbins and Guthrie had been visiting the Great Barrington man and had agreed to cart away the rubbish for him. They told the court that, when they found the Barrington dump closed, they drove around and then disposed of the junk by tossing it over the Stockbridge hillside.

Unidentified newspaper clipping, reprinted in This is the Arlo Guthrie Songbook, New York, NY, 1969, p. 39.

As a complete trivial aside, there was a wonderful picture in Newsweek in the late 1980s. When the real Officer Obie retired, he and Arlo Guthrie took a photo op shaking hands in front of a VW Microbus. It was most excellent.

Alice's Restaurant was also the name of a pirate radio station operating in London (England) in the 1980s.

At the time, rock music was sadly under-represented on legitimate radio. Alice's gave rockers and metalheads something to listen to.

Unlike the song, the station did not go on and on forever, but closed down following harassment by the authorities.

Rough, bare-bones tablature. I haven't heard the original in some years, but you should get the idea... The 1=2 notation is meant to indicate a slide, as a grace note, and distorts the representation of the rhythm by one character space

For the rhythm, the alternating bass (played with the thumb) should be steady (at every second character space, except around the slide notation.) The notes in between have a ragtime swing. Allowing your right index finger to land on the g-string occasionally when not otherwise occupied will improve the rendition..





The point that this rap (actually it's a talking blues) neatly sidesteps is that very likely he (and the rest of his family) had FBI files already. Seems like his dad, Woody, was a flat-out, redder-than-dawn-over-the-Kremlin, Communist, and was blacklisted as such. The Stockbridge police department had itchy trigger fingers for the Village Restaurant and Trinity Church ever since Alice and Ray had moved in (there being a few prep schools in the area...danger of minors getting hold of liquor, pot, and each other...) and they proposed to use the littering charge to harass them out of town.

Somehow I have a feeling that the draft board knew something about Arlo from the minute he shucked his drawers...

The 1995 rerecording of this song (on the anniversay of thirty Thanksgivings since the day of the original incident) , appearing as "Alice's Resturant (The Massacree Revisited)", while essentially faithful to the 1967 original, does differ in a few places, being a live retelling of the massacree. Aside from the editing of the line regarding what happens to the pair of people of people who walk into the shrink's office (a wonderful illustration of the way liberalism has evolved over the years), the most notable change is the addendum inspired by the passing of former president Richard M. Nixon. It comes in right as he chides the audience after singing the chorus with them...

You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
(Arlo drops out)
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant

No, nooo! You can't start singing loud just at the end if I quit singing! You would've thought after all this time you'd've learned by now! If you wanna end war and stuff you've gotta sing loud all the time, so people can hear you!

Now, I know this is a long song, believe me, I know how long it is, even on the record when it come out it was pretty long, what, eighteen minutes like I said or something, and I'm not sitting here trying to make it any longer, but I can feel it. I know there's people sitting in this very room tonight that don't believe that songs can change the world, or that songs can change the destiny of nations.

I don't blame you. I wouldn't have thought so myself. 'Course I know something that some of you may not know, but I was reminded of it during the last election, see, I remembered when Jimmy Carter was elected President, 'cause I got an invitation to his inauguration, and I knew I had to go, 'cause I knew it'd be the only one I ever got. Been right so far. But I went down to Washinton, D.C. -- I ain't making this up now, this is real -- I went down to Washington, and it's just like you see on TV, people partying and stuff, and everything was fine until along toward evening somebody come around, tapped me on the shoulder, and I turned around, and it was Chip Carter, the President's son.

I said, "Hi, Chip!" -- I recognized him, he was about my age -- he said,

"Arlo, I've been looking everywhere for you."

I said, "Chip, how come?"

He said, "Arlo, I've got something very important to tell you."

And I said, "Chip, what is it?"

He said, "Arlo, we were moving our stuff into the White House, and in the Nixon Record Library we found a copy of your record, Alice's Restaurant."

I looked at Chip Carter, I looked deep into the man's soul and I said, "Chiiii-iiiiip! Was it opened?"

And it slow motion he noded, yes, it had been opened. Now I want you folks to know that I did not think about that for a long time, until recently, when we was all thinking 'bout Richard Nixon when he passed away, and... I see some people here who may not know, see, but Richard Nixon was the President of the United States, and he used to like to tape stuff. I mean, if you can imagine a world before cassette decks and VCRs was everywhere, you can imagine a man who was truly ahead of his time! He taped everything that went on in the White House, and everything was fine until one day they started playing back the tapes! People found out what was going on in there! But it wasn't anything that was on any tape that got the man in trouble, so much as it was what he had erased from the tapes, and there was one particular famous gap in one of the tapes that I was thinking about one night, when I said to myself,

"Arlo, how many things in the world are eighteen minutes and twenty seconds long?"

Well? How many things in the world ARE exactly eighteen minutes and twenty seconds long? Probably just a coincidence, but it's good enough for me.

So when the song comes around on the guitar, remember that songs can change the destiny of nations, even if it's only by coincidence. You just have to know the words, have the feeling, and wait for it come around again on the guitar...

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