Friday September 22nd 2017

Why didn’t we play “Alice’s Restaurant?”

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.

Right.

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.

That’s it!

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.

At all.

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.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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.

Right.

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.

That’s it!

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’re 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 & tells a story that has no relevance to my world.

At all.

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.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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6 Comments for “Why didn’t we play “Alice’s Restaurant?””

  • Margie says:

    I must disagree. It’s decisions like this that deny every last bit of spontaneity and “oh wow” on radio stations that will ultimately lead to its irrelevancy. If radio is every bit as predictable as an ipod, why bother with radio?

  • james says:

    Spontaneity? Playing this dumb song at noon every dang Thanksgiving is the opposite of spontaneous! It is utter predictability. The song has worn out its welcome. I agree that it is completely irrelevant to the holiday and to today’s world. I lived in New Orleans for my first 25 years and I never heard the song one time. I guess N.O. had already moved past this idiotic anti-draft rant. And this from the same person who gave us the song “City of New Orleans” (a very good song I might add). I think it would be a good decision to do away with this tune forever. Play it on you own Ipod if you must.

  • Tycho says:

    The abolition of the draft is of immense continuing relevance to US politics. When every male citizen stood a chance of being required to serve in the army, every family had a personal stake in the foreign-policy decisions of the government, and most importantly the decision whether or not the country should go to war. It was precisely that fact that helped create such fierce opposition to the Vietnam War. When you knew that you or your son or your brother might die in a pointless and unwinnable war, the question of whether the war should continue was a matter of life or death for you and your family.

    The creation of the all-volunteer army meant that the poor would now fight the wars for middle- and upper-income Americans. The opposition to the Iraq war, as extensive as it was, shows the effect of that; it was never as fierce of emotional as the feelings surrounding Vietnam. The same is true of Afghanistan today. The people with the money and the power no longer have a personal stake in what happens. And that has a huge effect on the decisions that get made.

  • Tycho says:

    P.S. James, Arlo’s version of “City of New Orleans” is great, but he didn’t write it. It’s a Steve Goodman song.

    A really good and underrated Arlo album is his second, Running Down the Road, with songs like “Coming Into Los Angeles” and “Every Hand in the Land”. It’s too bad that those don’t get the same exposure as “Alice’s restaurant”.


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