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Arlo Guthrie

Arlo Guthrie is an American folk singer who is the son of folk singer and composer Woody Guthrie. He was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1947.

His most famous work is Alice's Restaurant, a story song that lasts 18 minutes and 20 seconds. The song, a bitingly satirical protest against the Vietnam War draft, recounts a true Thanksgiving adventure that began at Alice's Restaurant, where you can get anything you want (excepting Alice). Alice, in this case, was restaurant owner Alice Brock, who lived in a former church in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The song describes how Guthrie was hauled into court for littering some of Alice's garbage after discovering that the dump was closed for Thanksgiving, and because of the resulting criminal record he was eventually rejected as unfit for military service when he was called up for the draft. The characters in the story, including both Alice and officer Obie, who arrested him, became famous in their own right as a result of the song. Alice's Restaurant is regularly played on some radio stations every Thanksgiving. The lyrics to the song can be found at this location on Guthrie's web site: [1] (http://www.arlo.net/lyrics/alices.shtml) Although it has some fantastical elements, it is based on a true story. Alice's Restaurant was revised and updated some years later to protest Reagan era policies, but the second version has not been released on a commercial recording. It is equally biting, and equally funny.

To quote one of the song's Carollian twists:

It's not the name of the restaurant, it's just the name of the song, which is why I call the song Alice's Restaurant. (compare with the song Haddocks' Eyes in Through the Looking-Glass).

The song also provided the scenario (and much of the soundtrack) for the film Alice's Restaurant (movie).

Guthrie also made famous Steve Goodman's song City of New Orleans, a paean to long-distance rail travel. He also had a minor hit with his song Coming into Los Angeles.

Like his father, Woody Guthrie, Arlo often sings songs of protest against social injustice. He collaborated with poet Adrian Mitchell to tell the story of Chilean folk singer and activist Victor Jara in song.

In 1991, Guthrie bought the church that had served as Alice Brock's former home and made famous by the song, and converted it to the Guthrie Center (http://www.guthriecenter.org), an interfaith meeting place that serves people of all religions.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2004.

Arlo Guthrie Facts

BirthdayJuly 10, 1947 (75)
BirthplaceBrooklyn, New York, USA

Selected Filmography

Not available.