Thursday, Nov 22, 2012
by Ned Wazowski
A Thanksgiving Dinner that Couldn’t Be Beat
“You can get anything you want, at Alice’s Restaurant”
There are few Thanksgiving dinners more memorable (or which have sold more records) than the one – or actually two – that Arlo Guthrie had in 1965. That year, he was visiting friends in Stockbridge Massachusetts, where he had gone to school, when he had a run in with the law.
Guthrie and friend Richard Robbins thought it would be a “friendly gesture” to take out the garbage for their hosts, and finding the dump closed (as it was Thanksgiving) added their garbage to another pile they saw. The resulting ordeal – Guthrie and Robbins were arrested for littering – makes for one-half of the best stories ever recorded.
But it’s what happens after, and because of, the arrest that really puts the tale into the league of truly great stories. Guthrie goes on to relate how his days as a litterbug affected his draft status, and ties that in to changing the world (“ending war and stuff”).
Guthrie released the 18-minute and 34-second song on his debut album in 1967, and followed the album’s popularity with a film released in 1969. In 1997 the song was re-recorded – which is usually a terrible idea. But the newer version adds a hilarious afterward that proves truth (even when it’s a little exaggerated) is definitely stranger than fiction. Songs can really change the course of nations.
If you haven’t heard the Alice’s Restaurant Massacree – then have yourself a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat!
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