Alice's Restaurant Massacree

Arlo Guthrie

Song Review by Stewart Mason

One of the most famous folk-rock songs of all time and certainly the song that Arlo Guthrie will forever be known for, the 18 and a half-minute "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" is as much a minor classic of standup comedy as it is a song. The song itself, a quick verse and a catchy chorus, is merely prologue to a monologue that's equal parts social satire, political commentary and gut-busting one-liners, based on Guthrie's real-life arrest for littering near Northampton, Massachusetts and its eventual repercussions on his draft physical. Although some of the references are dated to modern audiences, this hippie-era classic ? this was one of those albums simply everyone had circa 1968 ? has aged surprisingly well, thanks to Guthrie's impressive comedic timing. (The infamous "father rapers" scene is still a masterpiece of tossed-off, underplayed lines.) In 1969, to coincide with the release of the film based on the song, Reprise Records released to radio stations a single called "Alice's Rock and Roll Restaurant," which is simply the song repeated endlessly to a vamping, aimless blues-rock boogie. It's not worth seeking out, but if you must, it appears on Time-Life's Lost Hits of the '60s compilation.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Alice's Restaurant 1967 Reprise 18:20
Alice's Restaurant [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] 1969 Omnivore / Omnivore Recordings 0:00
The Best of Arlo Guthrie 1977 Reprise 18:36