MP3: Arlo Guthrie - Alice's Restaurant Massacree
Another day, another very long track. After the 20 minute Mogwai track that closed yesterday's Government Commissions 2 post, here's a rather long track by Arlo Guthrie. The son of legendary folk artist Woody Guthrie, Arlo appeared at the 1969 Woodstock festival and has had a long career playing folk music in a rather similar style to that of his father.
His most famous composition, Alice's Restaurant Massacree, is an 18 minute folk/talking blues satire on the Vietnam War draft and anti-hippie prejudice, and is very very funny. Based on a true story that happened to Arlo in 1965, it begins with Guthrie's arrest for illegally dumping garbage from the titular restaurant, and 17 minutes later, after many twists and turns, ends up being judged unfit for military service due to his criminal record. The song became a huge hit, and is still played today on many American radio stations on Thanksgiving day. A rather amusing anecdote related to the song was that when Guthrie had learnt that Richard Nixon was a fan of the song, he suggested that this explained the famous 16 and a half minute gap in the Watergate tapes.
The song was released on Arlo's 1967 Alice's Restaurant album, which subsequently rose to number #17 on the Billboard charts. In 1969 the song was expanded and turned into a full length movie of the same name, directed and co-written by Arthur Penn and starring Guthrie, Pat Quinn, James Broderick (father of Matthew) and fellow folkie Pete Seeger. The film was released 3 days after Guthrie's appearance at the Woodstock festival. It's perhaps a little too long, but the parts based in the recruitment centre are absolutely hilarious, and so its definitely recommended to any fans of 60s counter-culture cinema.
Guthrie still plays the song to this day, and it remains the focal point for his live set. He regularly expands the song, adding new sections and improvising on certain parts. One of my lecturers claims that he once saw him perform a 58 minute long Alice's Restaurant. One can only imagine.
Anyway do yourself a big favour and download the song, i'm sure you'll like it.