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The Alice's Restaurant Massacree by Arlo Guthrie

Updated on October 9, 2014

The misdemeanor that defined a generation

For me, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without listening to this classic performance piece by Arlo Guthrie, released in 1967.

The Alice's Restaurant Massacree relates a largely-true and very funny story of small-town drama, clashing cultures, and the struggles of the 1960s, all set to an memorable (but never tiresome) guitar line.

Video: An illustrated version of the original song!

Andr3w Time made this video illustrating "Alice's Restaurant" with his own original drawings.

The lyrics!

Here are the complete lyrics to

The Alice's Restaurant Massacree.

What I love about "The Alice's Restaurant Massacree"

  • I love the story. The best thing about "The Alice's Restaurant Massacree" is that it really happened. A perfect storm of silly situations. And, just our luck, they happened to someone who was also a songwriter.
  • I love Arlo Guthrie's delivery style. His speaking voice is quirky and unique and goes perfectly with the folksy storytelling style of his monologue.
  • I love Arlo's performance. It could never be easy to tell an 18-minute story while playing guitar the entire time. He recorded "Alice's Restaurant" live in front of an audience and keeps them engaged all the way through. There are a couple of spots where he has to find his way a little bit, but it's still impressive work.
  • I love the slice of American history. During the Vietnam War, I was too young to know anything about what was going on. This song gives me a glimpse into the feelings of the times, the sentiments about the war, the vulnerability of men facing the draft, and the establishment's distrust of long-haired young people who drove Volkswagen buses. "Alice's Restaurant" puts you right in the middle of all of it.

See Arlo perform "Alice's Restaurant"

This is Arlo Guthrie performing "Alice's Restaurant" in 2005 at Farm Aid.

How to play "Alice's Restaurant"

It all started two Thanksgivings ago . . . - This is the church building where Alice and her husband, Ray, lived.

The church where Arlo Guthrie visited Alice during the Alice's Restaurant Massacree
The church where Arlo Guthrie visited Alice during the Alice's Restaurant Massacree

4 Van Deusenville Road

Great Barrington, MA

This building, formerly Trinity Church, was purchased by Alice and Ray as their home. It is the site of the "Thanksgiving dinners that couldn't be beat" and the center of Arlo's Massacree adventure.

Arlo Guthrie now owns the building himself. It is now the site of the Guthrie Center, an interfaith church founded in 1991.

Take our Alice's Restaurant poll

How do you feel about "The Alice's Restaurant Massacree" by Arlo Guthrie?

See results

Really creepy news story! Just happened in March 2010.

A serial killer played an excerpt from "Alice's Restaurant" (the scene where Arlo is in the shrink's office!) to the jury during his trial.

Here's the story from the Los Angeles Times.

The sign that leads you to the former "Alice's Restaurant" site
The sign that leads you to the former "Alice's Restaurant" site

The site in Stockbridge, MA, where Alice once ran her restaurant is still a restaurant and is now called Theresa's Stockbridge Cafe.

The Alice's Restaurant marketplace!

Have a look around and see if you see something that would make a great gift, for yourself or for someone else.

Buy "Alice's Restaurant"

"The Alice's Restaurant Massacree" was featured on an album with the same title, and is also on Arlo Guthrie's "Greatest Hits" album.

Alice's Restaurant
Alice's Restaurant
The full album on CD. The other songs on this album are: * Chilling of the Evening * Ring-Around-a-Rosy Rag * Now and Then * I'm Going Home * Motorcycle Song * Highway in the Wind
Alice's Restaurant 2: Massacree Revisited
Alice's Restaurant 2: Massacree Revisited
A re-recording of the songs on the original album, with Arlo doing an updated version of "The Alice's Restaurant Massacree".

It was also made into a movie!

In 1969, the "Alice's Restaurant" movie was released. For the film, a fictional storyline was added to the true events from the song to create a story about '60s counterculture. Arlo Guthrie played himself in the movie, as did arresting officer William Obanhein and Judge James Hannon, who presided over the court case. Alice and Ray Brock acted as extras in the movie, but did not play themselves. Their characters were portrayed by Pat Quinn and James Broderick.

Here's the Wikipedia article on the "Alice's Restaurant" movie.

Alice Brock -- photo courtesy of perrygrl on Flickr
Alice Brock -- photo courtesy of perrygrl on Flickr

Alice -- Remember Alice?

Alice's Restaurant Cookbook
Alice's Restaurant Cookbook
Apparently, Alice Brock really was a great cook. Her cookbook and cooking philosophy get glowing reviews.

© 2009 Joan Hall


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