Alice's Restaurant

  • Being a product of the last year of the 60’s, I effectively missed the era. In the song, when the guy (doctor?) asks him “Son, have you rehabilitated yourself?” what was the person asking about? - MC

Arlo had a conviction on record (illegally dumping garbage), and he was being asked if he’d been cured of those tendencies.

(While I was attempting to write this response, I found myself stumped by the following question: If a person who commits a felony is called a felon, what’s a person who commits a misdemeanor called? A misdemeaner?)

In the first part of the classic Vietnam war protest song Guthrie tells the story of how when he was in Stockbridge, Mass. one Thanksgiving, he was arrested for dumping garbage, and convicted in a case of blind justice (despite the 37 8x10 color glossys with circles and arrows).

The second part of the song describes his Army induction. After having his medical examination, his psychiatric examination (in which the shrink accepts him after jumping on the shrink’s desk yelling “I wanna kill; I wanna kill”), he finally gets a form with a question on whether he has ever been convicted of a crime.

Since he was convicted of littering, he is then asked on the form (I think, it may have been by the sargent) whether he has rehabilitated himself. He makes a wise-ass out of himself and is therefore found not moral enough to join the army.

(By the way, it’s misdemeanant.)

…and, boys and girls, what was the only thing you couldn’t get at Alice’s Restaurant? :smiley:

…send lawyers, guns, and money…

       Warren Zevon

Why, Alice, of course. :smiley:

“If I pinch my nose with my fingers, close my mouth tight,
and blow real hard, I can make my ears bleed. It’s
not as cool as Superman’s X-ray vision, but it’s my own
special talent.”

I hear in the movie you could get Alice, but I digress; I think the point was that the absurdity of the war, in the minds of Arlo’s fans, was exemplified by the line “you want to know if I’m moral enough to join the army, burn women, kids, houses and villages after being a litterbug?”

To add to the absurdity, Arlo’s number was selected prematurely due to the fact that he had a conviction for littering.

What is the deal on that? If you got convicted of a crime your draft number was called early?

I purchased the Arlo Guthrie Alices Restaurant CD and got a kick out of listening to the song again after so many years. It’s pretty long at 18 minutes or so. I was wondering, in the version I remember there was the crowd chanting “Alice, Alice, who the f*** is Alice?” - but it must be a live version because it’s not on my CD. Am I right, or was it an all together different song?

By the way, what is the longest song that’s ever hit the top 100 - I guess American Pie would be in the running?

Even if I had a signature, I doubt I’d have room for it.

Strange, I was just thinking of the song, “Alice’s Restaurant” this weekend. Many moons ago I remember hitch-hiking to a movie theater showing the movie, which was considered very very outre and subversive. I’m not kidding, people were actually WATCHING to see who went into the theater. I barely remember it now, but at the time it was like spitting in the eye of The Man. Funny, you never hear about it or ever see it on TV or for rent in a video store. Maybe some things should just remain buried in the past.

Speaking of Alice’s Restaurant, I feel compelled to make a plug for the place where I like to catch lunch—especially if I can get off work in time to catch the buffet which ends at 2:30. Armand’s Chicago Pizzeria in Silver Spring, MD. You might want to say hello to the manager if you drop by—her name is Alice… :wink:

FWIW, I’ve got the original LP and that’s not on it. IIRC, this recording was done after the original. Maybe you heard it on a Newport Folk Festival bootleg?

–Arlo referred to Alice as a recitation. Kind of a Brother Dave story with a guitar in the background. Although, okay, near the end he led the audience in singing the chorus.
On July 20, 1968, Iron Butterfly hit the top 5 with their 17 minute In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.

Actually, that idea is one of the great acts of misdirection in the history of performances. The (original) song is fewer than eight minutes long. Toward the end, when Arlo is trying to get his audience to join in, he makes a comment about being able to keep playing as long as it takes to get them to join in. His comment is something like “I’ve been playing up here for twenty minutes. . . I can play for another twenty minutes. . . I’m not proud.”

In fact, the song concludes at around 7:47. (I’m not sure of the exact time and my tape isn’t here at the house.)


He wasn’t proud…or tired.


tomndebb, on my LP, “Alice’s Restaraunt Massacree” comes in at 18:20. All of side 1. I don’t believe it would be possible to go through Alice and Ray’s living arrangement, the garbage collection and dumping, the investigation, thanksgiving in jail, blind justice, whitehall, the psychiatrist interview, the criminal activity questionaire, and the “movement recruiting” in less than 12 min at the least.

I’m in no position to challenge you if you’re looking at the tape or record. OTOH, I almost didn’t buy the tape I did because it was so short. However, when I played it, I couldn’t think of anything that had been cut. (It has every incident that you mentioned.) I’ll have to go find my tape.

(As a weasel, I’ll note that Arlo could not have been playing for 20 minutes if your version ends at 18:20.)


The song your thinking of is “Living Next Door to Alice.” I’m not sure of the artist.

“If you prick me, do I not…leak?” --Lt. Commander Data

Poor old Reuben Clamzo…(sigh)

I had the pleasure of seeing Arlo perform live, Legion Field, UGA, 1988 (I’m pretty sure). Before he launced into Alice’s Restaurant he noted that the song is approximately as long as the deleted portion of the Nixon tapes. He figured it explained a lot.