The Illustrated Version of “Alice’s Restaurant”: Watch Arlo Guthrie’s Thanksgiving Counterculture Classic

Alice Restaurant. It’s now a Thanksgiving classic, and something of a tradition is here. The 18-minute counterculture song was recorded in 1967, and chronicles Arlo Guthrie’s real encounter with the law, beginning on Thanksgiving Day 1965. As the long song begins, we hear all about how a police officer attacks a hippie, in the name of William” Obi” Obanhein, Arlo has been arrested for littering. (Cultural footnote: Obi has previously produced several Norman Rockwell paintings, including the well-known painting, “The Runaway,” which graced the 1958 cover of Saturday Evening Post.) In fairly short order, Arlo pleads guilty to a misdemeanor charge, pays a $25 fine, and ends the strikes. But the story is not over yet. Not by a long shot. Later, when Arlo (Woody Guthrie’s son) was called up to enlist, petty crime, ironically, became the basis for his disqualification from military service in the Vietnam War. Guthrie recounts this with some bitterness as the song turns into a satirical protest against the war: “I’m sitting here on the seat of group W because you want to know if you’re moral enough to join the military, or burn women, children, homes and villages after bein’ a litterbug.” ‘ Then we return to the cheerful chorus again: ‘You can have whatever you want, at Alice’s Restaurant.’

We’ve reviewed Guthrie classics over the years. But this Thanksgiving, we’re bringing you the photo version. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who is planning to celebrate Eid today.

Would you like to support the Open Culture mission? Please consider making a donation to our site. Ads are hard to count 100%, and your contributions will help us continue to provide the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

Also consider following Open Culture at Facebook and Twitter And Share smart media with your friends. or Sign up for our daily email And get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox.

Related content:

William S. Burroughs recites a satirical “Thanksgiving” in the 1988 film Gus Van Sant

Marilyn Monroe’s Handwritten Recipe for Turkey and Stuffing

William Shatner raps on how not to kill yourself flipping a turkey

F. Scott Fitzgerald 13 Tips for What You Should Do With Your Leftovers on Thanksgiving Turkey

Leave a Comment