The title of this song can be translated in several ways, such as “Alice’s Restaurant Massacre” or “Alice’s Restaurant Massacre. Either way, it is capable of shocking impressionable souls who prefer touching, sentimental stories about naive maiden dreams, the beauty of nature, or the experiences of loving hearts.
In the extreme case – magical fairy tales like the adventures of a judicious and observant girl Alice in absurd Wonderland. But if we add that this song by the American folk singer Arlo Guthrie, which opens the album “Alice’s Restaurant,” was written in 1967 and was a symbol of protest against the Vietnam War, everything falls into place. What’s more, Arlo himself almost went to prison for impertinent behavior, which was considered as incitement to rebellion. And only a certificate issued by the prison psychiatrist helped the singer to get out.
History of the song “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”
As for Alice’s restaurant, or rather Alice’s, it existed in reality and belonged to a friend of Guthrie’s, an extravagant artist and designer who had invested the family fortune she had inherited into opening her own restaurant. Some believed that Alice and Arlo were just friends who shared the same views and love of extravagance, while others suspected that there were romantic feelings between the two. One thing that was certain was that the restaurant Alice owned had never been the scene of fights, stabbings, or other drunken excesses, though it was far from a respectable family establishment.
Alice knew very well that the image of the restaurant, where musicians, poets, artists, and other creative people gathered, could bring in good money, and published several cookbooks with the signature recipes of this famous place. And connoisseurs of the works of American artist Norman Rockwell, who with love and knowledge of life reproduced the everyday life of America, will gladly point you to the small restaurant depicted in his paintings and explain that this is the legendary restaurant Alice.
It was at this restaurant, where you can “order whatever you want and more,” that Guthrie, Alice, and her husband Ray once sat down. It was one of America’s major holidays, Thanksgiving, when bohemians and respectable citizens alike try to relax and have fun. What’s fun without a good drink, especially if it’s the middle of October and you want to get warm!
So our merry company had too much wine, and when it turned out that they needed to take out the garbage, they found that the nearest garbage dump was closed in connection with the holiday. Deciding that trash collectors had a right to a holiday, too, the friends dumped the trash at the nearest landfill, unaware that they were leaving incontrovertible evidence – an envelope with Guthrie’s name on it. The next day, the musician, unable to sober up after his booze, went straight to the station, where he immediately admitted his guilt. And later, when he was involved in protests, people would say, “Oh, the weird guy who didn’t take the trash to the dump!”
The plot of the song “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”
According to Guthrie, he simply talked the officer on duty into telling him the most incredible things about his adventures, his extraordinary friends, and, of course, Alice’s restaurant. That was just the beginning, though — once in the jail, the musician immediately began questioning his neighbors, who included murderers, rapists, and other colorful characters.
“We had a great time,” he recalls. But then he was sent to the prison psychiatrist, who wanted to know what was on the strange guy’s mind. And when Guthrie began to share his creepy fantasies with him, he realized the weirdo was too crazy for prison and let him go free. All this is told directly in the prose afterword to the song. The song itself takes a few lines and tells the story of Alice’s wonderful little restaurant about a half-mile from the railroad, which is a magnet for weirdos, dreamers and vagabonds. Here you can get whatever you want, including a good dose of inspiration to help you write a song that plays at anti-war rallies and has remained relevant for more than fifty years.