Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant 50th Anniversary
The incident happened in 1965, the song in 67, and the movie in 1969. I guess most of us know the story but the story now is that it is still Arlo Guthrie’s most beloved song.
His fans can’t get enough of the eighteen minute song that became a movie.
Arlo has said that at his concerts you could bet on a request for Alice. He also wasn’t sure he would be having a 50th anniversary. I am sure he is happy to be around to sing it again for all of us who love it. It was requested so much and an eighteen minute song is a beast to get through every night so he stopped playing it except for every tenth anniversary. So, here we are at fifty.
Arlo’s daughter Sarah Lee opened the show and it was easy to tell they were related. Sarah Lee is not only a fantastic singer and songwriter but boy can she tell a story. Wonder where she acquired that skill. Having met Ramblin’ Jack Elliott myself I best remember her story about Jack asking if he could tell her a bedtime story. Sarah Lee said, “No Jack, I need to get to sleep. I have school tomorrow. Jack asked if he could come to her school and tell her class the story. Sarah Lee said, “No Jack”. Jack asked why. Sarah Lee told him because school was only for six hours.
Sarah Lee’s set was fantastic.
After a short break a video screen lit up playing a claymation video of a pickle riding a motorcycle singing “The Motorcycle Song”. Then mid song Arlo strolled on stage singing along. This led to a set of well known Guthrie songs and stories. Great story about arriving at Woodstock and being asked to play a day earlier than expected. Watch out for that hole in the stage Arlo. This was followed by “Coming into Los Angeles”.
He also told about Steve Goodman singing him the “City of New Orleans” in Chicago and asking him to give it to Johnny Cash. Cash passed on it and Arlo made it a hit.
Another short break and Arlo walked on stage and started “The Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” Well, we all probably know how it goes. A few words changed, a timing change here and there but that same fifty year old fantastic story. The story backed by his piedmont style guitar picking he picked up from Mississippi John Hurt, Ramblin’ Jack, Doc Watson and others.
After THE song Arlo played a few more of his favorites and really struck a note on a song he wrote for his now departed wife. He sang it while scenes from their life together played on the video screen.
Arlo finished the show with a talk about how there is evil in the world but we can all fight it by using peace. He sang a new song “My Peace” while the words scrolled on the video screen.
Fantastic show. See you for the 60th.
Mark J. Smith
Arlo Guthrie’s 50th. Anniversary Alice’s Restaurant Tour