I got that question a few times this Thanksgiving Holiday.
Honestly? Because the song doesn’t mean anything to me.
That’s not to say I make decisions for what gets played on our station based upon my personal choices. What it means is…I’m 42 years old. And the song came out a year before I was born. I can’t possibly empathize with the sentiment at all.
For those who’ve never heard it, the original title is the “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.”
It’s a folk-song by Arlo Guthrie that tells the alleged tale of his arrest for littering in a small Western Massachusetts town on Thanksgiving Day 1965. Apparently the town dump was closed for the holiday, and Guthrie was emptying trash as a favor to “Alice.”
Making an 18-minute long song-story short…Back when America had a draft (what?), if you were called up to serve your country, and had a criminal record, apparently you were subject to bureaucratic scrutiny before being deemed worthy to kill people in a foreign land. The song goes on to depict the idiocy of this entire process, and directs the listener to sing the chorus in front of their local draft board when called to fight in Vietnam.
That doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of why this song is even considered a “Thanksgiving Day tradition.”
Do you know what the tie-in is? Exactly. The date of Guthrie’s alleged arrest.
There’s absolutely nothing about Thanksgiving in the song other than the jump-off point for an 18-minute anti-government rant.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I know there are plenty of things about our country that are worthy of subject matter for a song. However, this particular song came out before I was born and tells a story that has no relevance to my world.
None of this makes the song in any way “bad.” It just points out that I simply can’t empathize with any part of the song. And I really have no idea what would entice families to sit around their radios every Thanksgiving to hear this tale.
The Draft was done away with when I was five. FIVE!
If you were an 18-year old when the song came out, worrying about “the draft”…you’re 61 years old today.
Imagine how old Alice must be?
Either way…Alice doesn’t live here anymore.
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