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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: The Massacree Revisited (30th Anniversary Edition)
Alice's Restaurant: The Massacree Revisited (30th Anniversary Edition)

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

Walk right in . . .

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    • FunMoneyBusiness profile image

      Sharyn Read 3 years ago from ... either in the kitchen or at my laptop...

      It never ceases to amaze me how many times my husband and I say "eight by ten color, glossy pictures with circles and arrows on the back of each one" to each other - and many other funny lines from this CD!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 3 years ago

      Great message.

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      This may very well be my favourite song of all time. Lines from it are quoted almost daily around here. :)

    • DIY Mary profile image

      DIY Mary 5 years ago

      This song is a true folk classic and Arlo's delivery is priceless. The movie is also a hoot!

    • joanhall profile image
      Author

      Joan Hall 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      @xanthoria24: The movie included some added events that were invented by the writers, but the events in the song actually happened.

    • xanthoria24 profile image

      xanthoria24 5 years ago

      I love Arlo Guthrie and "Alice's Restaurant." I didn't know it actually happened. When I rented the movie from our grocery store when I was a teenager, they had it in the "action" section. I don't think anyone there had actually seen it.

    • profile image

      SeekerOfThings 5 years ago

      Just a great piece of American Music.

    • TrevorLedford profile image

      TrevorLedford 5 years ago

      Love this song! Thanx for the lens. I mean. I meeeaaaaan... I love it ; )

    • profile image

      RecordLady 6 years ago

      Great read. My hubby has the lp in his record collection.

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 6 years ago from Texas

      Definitely a classic, and one I listen to every Thanksgiving! Great job with this lens!

    • Lynnwho profile image

      Lynn Brophy 6 years ago from Commack

      What a wonderful job you did with this lens and a fabulous tribute to Arlo! You have no doubt been up to Great Barrington to the church and have participated in all the good that they do there at the Guthrie Center. Loving Arlo also..you can only imagine that the Alice's melody is running through my head all year round as it obviously is yours too! I'm in good company! Great Job Joan!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      A wonderful tribute to the Alice's Restaurant Masacre!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 6 years ago

      Definitely a classic - thanks for sharing this lens! :)

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 6 years ago from Havre de Grace

      Yes! I love this and our local radio station playes this EVERY Thanksgiving at noon. Just heard it last week! Classic in every way as well as your lens!

    • Northwestphotos profile image

      Northwestphotos 6 years ago

      I was in high school when Alice's Restaurant album was released. What a gas! That's all that everybody talked. Those were the good ole days!

    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 6 years ago from USA

      LOL...My husband ALWAYS plays this on Thanksgiving. Wacky and awesome!

    • hughgrissettsr lm profile image

      hughgrissettsr lm 6 years ago

      great lens! i was 16 in 1967 and i remember it well! i also love arlo's dad's music.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      hi - I'd forgotten how much I liked this song - it became a bit of a cult thing - jumping up and down - thanks great lens

    • kdlovett profile image

      kdlovett 6 years ago

      My husband introduced me to this song. It always brings a smile to his face!

    • LikinTrikin LM profile image

      LikinTrikin LM 6 years ago

      Great lens....my husband made me listen to the entire song this past Thanksgiving, the first time I've ever heard it all the way through. :)

    • progressivist lm profile image

      progressivist lm 6 years ago

      I own the LP of Alice's Restaurant, and remember seeing the movie when I was a child. In my 20s I used to perform the entire song at parties! This is a song whose message remains timely no matter how far in the past the events took place. Thank you for a great lens and a great trip down memory lane!

    • chezchazz profile image

      Chazz 6 years ago from New York

      My wife has been listening to Alice's Restaurant every thanksgiving since before I met her. It follows the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade at noon every year (even if we're visiting friends or relatives). The only time she ever missed the 12:00 ritual was when we took our son to see the parade in person. That year it got bumped to early evening. It has become a family tradition.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I saw the movie at high school in England in the early 70's and not knowing anything about it, I just didn't get it. many moons later Arlo Guthrie did an open air concert where I lived at the time in Indiana, and he was brilliant. Being older and wiser, as well as having lived in the USA for 15 years, I understand the song and the humor, and love it.

      Joan this is a brilliant lens, and did you know that if you become a fan of Arlo on Facebook he is one of those celebrities who is very active on there. I was hoping to send some blessings off today, and this is a well deserved candidate, so one is currently winging it's way over to you.

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 6 years ago

      My first time to hear this, really great! I enjoyed it a lot.

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 6 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Revisited with wings: Angel Blessed

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 6 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Saw Alice's Restaurant decades ago and have been singing it on and off ever since - it';s astonishing how chunks stay in your head. The army induction scene is on a par with Tom Paxton's Bayonet Rap.

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 6 years ago from East Central Florida

      Thanks for the memories!

    • dwnovacek profile image

      dwnovacek 6 years ago

      Awesome lens about a great song! I'm always surprised at how many folks have never heard of this! Angel Blessings

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great music, great film from a great time!! Thanks for this lens.

    • profile image

      grannysage 6 years ago

      I love Arlo Guthrie and got to see him in person a few years ago. Yes, he still sings Alice's Restaurant, although I think there was a period when he refused to sing it. Can't really blame him. Thanks for featured my Ex-Hippie lens, that was a nice surprise. I am still of the opinion that today's music just doesn't live up to the oldies. Blessed by Granny FairyAngel.

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 7 years ago from New York City

      I loved Alice's Restaurant. As a peace activist and draft resister, it was contemporary for me. Thanks for the very genuine walk down memory lane!

      One other thoughtâhow come Arlo never had another Alice? He had some hits and even a few talking blues, but never a long, funny monologue like this one. Too bad.

      By the way, he was on a float in the Macy's parade this year, singing "This Land Is Your Land," his father's landmark.

    • kougar lm profile image

      kougar lm 7 years ago

      We listened to The Alice's Restaurant Massacree this Thanksgiving. This is one fun song and this great lens pays tribute to it. Thanks

    • jodijoyous profile image

      jodijoyous 7 years ago from New York

      Love this song!

    • puzzlerpaige profile image

      puzzlerpaige 7 years ago

      Well that was weird - I've never ever heard of this song but think it's the strangest most unique spoken song I've listened to. It's quite funny and thanks for writing about it.

    • QuestForHozro profile image

      QuestForHozro 7 years ago

      My brother could do the whole thing (with enough beer anyway) for friends at parties.

      And yes, there a number of other great songs on the album!

      I don't want to eat a pickle. I just want to ride my motorcycle."

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 7 years ago from Central Florida

      My college friends and I could sing/narrate whole passages of this. Loved it.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 7 years ago

      I love Alice's REstaurant!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 7 years ago from New York

      My kids grew up in the early 70's and like you, every Thanksgiving we would play "Alice's Restaurant". Still today, they are now playing it on Thanksgiving for my grandchildren... and so the Thanksgiving tradition continues. JHF loves using "Implements of Destruction" as I do, but I also love the "Group W Bench"!

    • profile image

      JHFSEO 7 years ago

      If anything, Alice's Restaurant is underrated. A great piece of spoken word music, with one of the catchiest refrains ever, and a both a hilarious story and a brilliant sign o' the times. The YouTube animation accompaniment is brilliant and hilarious. Thanks to Alice's Restaurant, I use "Implements of Destruction" and "American Blind Justice" as often as possible in friendly conversation. Cheers!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Well done. Always enjoyed "Alice's Restaurant." Remember seeing the movie in school was a big deal. Thank you for the lens.

    • mamakat lm profile image

      mamakat lm 7 years ago

      Hey Joan,

      Awesome lens. I am 58 yo...I've heard about 'Alice's Restaurant' since I was a teen--guess I was about 16 when it came out....Okay....I was a teenager in IOWA!! So really didn't have much exposure to popular culture at that point in time. Do NOT recall ever hearing the actual song.

      I mentioned to my friend from California, he insists that "Alice's Restaurant" is located in California....and is still a popular restaurant. Guess he's full-o-crap about that, as well as many other stories he tries to tell us??????

      I enjoyed this very much! A lot of it even relates to today...as far as police control and political issues are involved..and other stuff like that!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      What a way to start my day! It has been years since I really listened to all of Alice's Restaurant so this was fun! Glad you got a purple star and now I will add to your other blessings.

    • eccles1 profile image

      eccles1 7 years ago

      I love the movie and the music great job

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Another lens where you have introduced me to something with which I was not at all familiar. I love the way you make lenses about things that you have a genuine interest in.

      Congrats on that Purple Star!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 7 years ago from Canada

      Nicely done; I wasn't familiar with Alice's Restaurant...

    • joanhall profile image
      Author

      Joan Hall 8 years ago from Los Angeles

      @Linda BookLady: Thanks for the MySpace tip! I added it.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 8 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      One of my favorite songs... I found him on MySpace... 5* - great lens! Congratulations on your purple star!

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 8 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Oh yes, the memories! Gotta listen again. Great job on this, well deserving of the Purple Star!

    • nebby profile image

      nebby 8 years ago from USA

      I listened to the album so much I wore it out. The movie is one of the few that took a story and gave it it's own life. I love both. Great job in bringing back the memories.

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 8 years ago

      Oh yes, this is a classic! Brings back memories.

    • Laniann profile image

      Laniann 8 years ago

      Wonderful! Love the new drawings and enjoyed listening to Alice's Restaurant.

    • WhiteOak50 profile image

      WhiteOak50 8 years ago

      Thank you so much for featuring my 1960s Music Lens!!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 8 years ago

      I'm glad you let me know about this lens. The song is a true gem of the sixties. What a classic cover, and your other photos are great too. Can you handle ANOTHER Squid Angel Blessing?

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 8 years ago

      Great lens, blessed by a squidangel :) Don't know the song, but have to love that cover :)

    • WhiteOak50 profile image

      WhiteOak50 8 years ago

      Great Lens. Lensrolling it back over to Music of 1960s.

    • Elle-Dee-Esse profile image

      Lynne Schroeder 8 years ago from Blue Mountains Australia

      Nice lens. I didn't know it was such a big thing to play it at Thanksgiving!

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 8 years ago

      Delightful & Blessed!

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 8 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      yes we love Alice's Restaurant. Love the lens too. Blessed.

    • kerbev profile image

      kab 8 years ago from Upstate, NY

      We have it playing during Thanksgiving dinner EVERY YEAR!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 8 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Joan I love this lens! Very cool 5* and blessed!