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Song Details
Duration: 18:35 
Release Date: 1967  (sav-man) 
Lyrics By: Arlo Guthrie (sav-man) 
Music By: Arlo Guthrie (sav-man) 
Produced By: Fred Hellerman (sav-man) 
Released By: Reprise Records (sav-man) 
Published By: Appleseed Music, Inc. (Stavro Arrgolus) 
Licensing: ASCAP  #310110555 
Keywords: JAIL, LITTERING, LONG SONGS, POLICE, PSYCHOLOGY, SOCIAL COMMENTARY, TALKING BLUES, THANKSGIVING, THE DRAFT, VIETNAM 
Reviews:
Facts:
  • Ironically, William Obenhein, the same "Officer Obie" who arrested Arlo for littering in 1967, appeared as himself in the movie as well! (sav-man)
  • Arlo later admitted that while he basically liked making the movie, certain events described in his song were changed for the film (that's Hollywood for you)! (sav-man)
  • Arlo later re-enacted the events described in this song when he starred in the 1969 movie "Alice's Restaurant". (sav-man)
  • Along with "Coming Into Los Angeles" and "City of New Orleans", "Alice" is one of Arlo's signature songs. (sav-man)
  • From his classic debut album, 1967's ALICE'S RESTAURANT. (sav-man)
  • In the second half, he describes his draftboard examination. (sav-man)
  • In the first half of this talking-blues song, Arlo talks about why he was arrested for littering after a Thanksgiving dinner. (sav-man)
  • Song Lyrics:
    This song is called Alice's Restaurant and it's about Alice...and the restaurant, but Alice's Restaurant is not the name of the restaurant, that's just the name of the song...and that's why I called the song Alice's Restaurant.

    You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
    You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
    Walk right in; it's around the back
    Just a half a mile from the railroad track
    You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant

    Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago, was on- two years ago on Thanksgiving, when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the restaurant, but Alice doesn't live in the restaurant, she lives in the church nearby the restaurant, in the bell tower, with her husband Ray and Fasha the dog and livin' in the bell tower like that, they got a lot of room downstairs where the pews used to be in. Havin' all that room, seein' as how they took out all the pews, they decided that they didn't have to take out their garbage for a long time.

    We got up there, we found all the garbage in there and we decided it'd be a friendly gesture for us to take the garbage down to the city dump. So we took the half a ton of garbage, put it in the back of a red VW microbus, took shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed on toward the city dump.

    Well, we got there and there was a big sign and a chain across across the dump saying, "Closed on Thanksgiving." And we had never heard of a dump closed on Thanksgiving before and with tears in our eyes we drove off into the sunset looking for another place to put the garbage.

    We didn't find one. Until we came to a side road and off the side of the side road there was another fifteen foot cliff and at the bottom of the cliff was another pile of garbage. And we decided that one big pile is better than two little piles and rather than bring that one up, we decided to throw ours down.

    This is what we did and drove back to the church, had a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat, went to sleep and didn't get up until the next morning, when we got a phone call from officer Obie. He said, "Kid, we found your name on an envelope at the bottom of a half a ton of garbage and just wanted to know if you had any information about it." And I said, "Yes, sir, Officer Obie, I cannot tell a lie, I put that envelope under that garbage."

    After speaking to Obie for about forty-five minutes on the telephone, we finally arrived at the truth of the matter and said that we had to go down and pick up the garbage and also had to go down and speak to him at the police officer's station. So we got in the red VW microbus with the shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed on toward the police officer's station.

    Now friends, there was only one or two things that Obie coulda done at the police station and the first was he could have given us a medal for being so brave and honest on the telephone, which wasn't very likely and we didn't expect it and the other thing was that he could have bawled us out and told us never to be see driving garbage around the vicinity again, which is what we expected, but when we got to the police officer's station, there was a third possibility that we hadn't even counted upon and we was both immediately arrested. Handcuffed. And I said "Obie, I don't think I can pick up the garbage with these handcuffs on." He said, "Shut up, kid. Get in the back of the patrol car."

    And that's what we did, sat in the back of the patrol car and drove to the quote 'scene of the crime' unquote. I want tell you about the town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where this happened here, they got three stop signs, two police officers, and one police car, but when we got to the 'scene of the crime' there was five police officers and three police cars, being the biggest crime of the last fifty years and everybody wanted to get in a newspaper story about it. And they was using up all kinds of cop equipment that they had hanging around the police officer's station. They was taking plaster tire tracks, foot prints, dog smelling prints and they took twenty seven eight by ten color glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us. Took pictures of the approach, the getaway, the northwest corner, the southwest corner and that's not to mention the aerial photography.

    After the ordeal, we went back to the jail. Obie said he was going to put us in the cell. Said, "Kid, I'm going to put you in the cell, I want your wallet and your belt." And I said, "Obie, I can understand you wanting my wallet so I don't have any money to spend in the cell, but what do you want my belt for?" And he said, "Kid...we don't want any hangings." I said, "Obie, did you think I was going to hang myself for littering?" Obie said he was making sure and friends Obie was, 'cause he took out the toilet seat so I couldn't hit myself over the head and drown and he took out the toilet paper so I couldn't bend the bars, roll out..roll the toilet paper out the window, slide down the roll and have an escape. Obie was making sure and it was about four or five hours later that Alice (remember Alice? It's a song about Alice), Alice came by and with a few nasty words to Obie on the side, bailed us out of jail, we went back to the church, had another Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat and didn't get up until the next morning when we all had to go to court.

    We walked in, sat down, Obie came in with the twenty seven eight by ten color glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one, sat down. Man came in said, "All rise." We all stood up and Obie stood up with the twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures and the judge walked in sat down with a seeing eye dog and he sat down, we sat down. Obie looked at the seeing eye dog and then at the twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one and looked at the seeing eye dog. And then at the twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one and began to cry, 'cause Obie came to the realization that it was a typical case of American blind justice and there wasn't nothing he could do about it and the judge wasn't going to look at the twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us. And we was fined $50 and had to pick up the garbage in the snow, but that's not what I came to tell you about.

    Came to talk about the draft.

    They got a building down New York City, it's called Whitehall Street, where you walk in, you get injected, inspected, detected, infected, neglected and selected. I went down to get my physical examination one day and I walked in, I sat down, got good and drunk the night before, so I looked and felt my best when I went in that morning. 'Cause I wanted to look like the all-American kid from New York City, man I wanted, I wanted to feel like the all-, I wanted to be the all American kid from New York and I walked in, sat down, I was hung down, brung down, hung up and all kinds o' mean, nasty, ugly things. And I walked in and sat down and they gave me a piece of paper- said, "Kid, see the psychiatrist, room 604."

    And I went up there, I said, "Shrink...I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill. Kill, KILL, KILL!" And I started jumpin' up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL," and he started jumpin' up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL." And the sergeant came over, pinned a medal on me, sent me down the hall, said, "You're our boy."
    Didn't feel too good about it.

    Proceeded on down the hall gettin' more injections, inspections,
    detections, neglections and all kinds of stuff that they was doin' to me at the thing there and I was there for two hours, three hours, four hours; I was there for a long time going through all kinds of mean, nasty, ugly things and I was just having a tough time there and they was inspecting, injecting every single part of me and they was leaving no part untouched. Proceeded through and when I finally came to the see the last man, I walked in, walked in sat down after a whole big thing there and I walked up and said, "What do you want?" He said, "Kid, we only got one question. Have you ever been arrested?"

    And I proceeded to tell him the story of Alice's Restaurant Massacree, with full orchestration and five part harmony and stuff like that and all the phenome... And he stopped me right there and said, "Kid, did you ever go to court?"

    And I proceeded to tell him the story of the twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one and he stopped me right there and said, "Kid, I want you to go and sit down on that bench that says Group W....NOW kid!!"

    And I, I walked over to the, to the bench there and there is, Group W's where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join the army after committing your special crime and there was all kinds of mean, nasty, ugly looking people on the bench there. Mother rapers. Father stabbers. Father rapers! Father rapers sitting right there on the bench next to me! And they was mean and nasty and ugly and horrible crime-type guys sitting on the bench next to me. And the meanest, ugliest, nastiest one, the meanest father raper of them all, was coming over to me and he was mean 'n' ugly 'n' nasty 'n' horrible and all kind of things and he sat down next to me and said, "Kid, whad'ya get?" I said, "I didn't get nothing, I had to pay $50 and pick up the garbage." He said, "What were you arrested for, kid?" And I said, "Littering." And they all moved away from me on the bench there and the hairy eyeball and all kinds of mean, nasty things, till I said, "And creating a nuisance." And they all came back, shook my hand and we had a great time on the bench, talkin about crime, mother stabbing, father raping, all kinds of groovy things that we was talking about on the bench. And everything was fine, we was smoking cigarettes and all kinds of things, until the Sergeant came over, had some paper in his hand, held it up and said-

    "Kids, this-piece-of-paper's-got-47-words-37-sentences-58-words-we-wanna-know-details-of-the-crime-time-of-the crime-and-any-other-kind-of-thing-you-gotta-say-pertaining-to-and-about-the-crime-I-want-to-know-arresting-officer's-name-and-any-other-kind-of-thing-you-gotta-say", and talked for forty-five minutes and nobody understood a word that he said, but we had fun filling out the forms and playing with the pencils on the bench there, and I filled out the massacree with the four part harmony and wrote it down there, just like it was, and everything was fine and I put down the pencil and I turned over the piece of paper, and there...there on the other side...in the middle of the other side...away from everything else on the other side...in parentheses...capital letters...quotated...read the following words:

    "(KID, HAVE YOU REHABILITATED YOURSELF?)"

    I went over to the sergeant, said, "Sergeant, you got a lot a damn gall to ask me if I've rehabilitated myself, I mean, I mean, I mean that just, I'm sittin' here on the bench, I mean I'm sittin' here on the Group W bench 'cause you want to know if I'm moral enough to join the army, burn women, kids, houses and villages after bein' a litterbug." He looked at me and said, "Kid, we don't like your kind, and we're gonna send your fingerprints off to Washington."

    And friends, somewhere in Washington, enshrined in some little folder, is a study in black and white of my fingerprints. And the only reason I'm singing you this song now is 'cause you may know somebody in a similar situation...or you may be in a similar situation and if you're in a situation like that, there's only one thing you can do and that's walk into the shrink wherever you are, just walk in say, "Shrink, you can get anything you want at Alice's restaurant." And walk out. You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and they won't take him. And if two people- two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them. And if three people do it, three- can you imagine, three people walking in singin' a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. They may think it's an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in singin' a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. And friends, they may think it's a movement.

    And that's what it is, the Alice's Restaurant Anti-Massacree Movement, and all you got to do to join is sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar. With feeling. So we'll wait 'til it comes around on the guitar here and sing it when it does...Here it comes.

    You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
    You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
    Walk right in; it's around the back
    Just a half a mile from the railroad track
    You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant

    That was horrible. If you want to end war and stuff you got to sing loud. You could put a lot..I've been singing this song now for twenty-five minutes. I could sing it for another twenty-five minutes. I'm not proud...or tired.

    So we'll wait till it comes around again and this time with four part harmony and feeling.

    We're just waitin' for it to come around is what we're doing.

    All right now.

    You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
    Excepting Alice
    You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
    Said walk right in; it's around the back
    Just a half a mile from the railroad track
    You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant

    Da da da da da da da dum
    At Alice's Restaurant!
    (Stavro Arrgolus)
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    Current Rating 8.0 (6 votes)
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    Messages about the song: "Alice's Restaurant Massacree"
     
     
    AliceWonderland   Offline  -  Member  -  08-08-08 03:42 AM  -  11 years ago
    fiogf49gjkf0d
    Next to the "Alice" from "White Rabbit", Arlo Guthrie's "Alice" is my favorite from the '60's! We reaally need to get back "there" becuz we got the Officers bustin' down the doors of a Mayor's mama in Prince Georges, Maryland and shootin' her two Labrador doggies, thinking it's a drop-off house for a Marijuana delivery, & this is supposed to be America? This is a Police State, worse than when Arlo Guthrie wrote this Song, only difference there's no DRAFT --- yet --- for young people like in Vietnam!
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