Arlo Guthrie – Alice’s Restaurant (Original Motion Picture Score) (1969)

FrontCover1Arlo Davy Guthrie (born July 10, 1947)[1] is a retired American folk singer-songwriter.[2] He is known for singing songs of protest against social injustice, and storytelling while performing songs, following the tradition of his father Woody Guthrie. Guthrie’s best-known work is his debut piece, “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”, a satirical talking blues song about 18 minutes in length that has since become a Thanksgiving anthem. His only top-40 hit was a cover of Steve Goodman’s “City of New Orleans”. His song “Massachusetts” was named the official folk song of the state, in which he has lived most of his adult life. Guthrie has also made several acting appearances. He is the father of four children, who have also had careers as musicians. (wikipedia)

Arlo Guthrie01

And here´s the soundtrack of the movie “Alice’s Restaurant”:

Alice’s Restaurant is a 1969 American comedy film directed by Arthur Penn. It is an adaptation of the 1967 folk song “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”, originally written and sung by Arlo Guthrie. The film stars Guthrie as himself, with Pat Quinn as Alice Brock and James Broderick as Ray Brock. Penn, who resided in the story’s setting of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, co-wrote the screenplay in 1967 with Venable Herndon after hearing the song, shortly after directing Bonnie & Clyde.

Alice’s Restaurant was released on August 19, 1969, a few days after Guthrie appeared at the Woodstock Festival. A soundtrack album for the film was also released by United Artists Records. The soundtrack includes a studio version of the title song, which was originally divided into two parts (one for each album side); a 1998 CD reissue on the Rykodisc label presents this version of the song in full, and adds several bonus tracks to the original LP.

Movie Poster

In 1965, Arlo Guthrie (as himself) has attempted to avoid the draft by attending college in Montana. His long hair and unorthodox approach to study gets him in trouble with local police as well as residents. He quits school, and subsequently hitchhikes back East. He first visits his father Woody Guthrie (Joseph Boley) in the hospital.

Arlo ultimately returns to his friends Ray (James Broderick) and Alice Brock (Pat Quinn) at their home, a deconsecrated church in Great Barrington, Massachusetts where they welcome friends and like-minded bohemian types to “crash”. Among these are Arlo’s school friend Roger (Geoff Outlaw) and artist Shelly (Michael McClanathan), an ex-heroin addict who is in a motorcycle racing club. Alice is starting up a restaurant in nearby Stockbridge. Frustrated with Ray’s lackadaisical attitude, she has an affair with Shelly, and ultimately leaves for New York to visit Arlo and Roger. Ray comes to take her home, saying he has invited a “few” friends for Thanksgiving.


The central point of the film is the story told in the song: After Thanksgiving dinner, Arlo and his friends decide to do Alice and Ray a favor by taking several months worth of garbage from their house to the town dump. After loading up a red VW microbus with the garbage, and “shovels, and rakes and other implements of destruction”, they head for the dump. Finding the dump closed for the holiday, they drive around and discover a pile of garbage that someone else had placed at the bottom of a short cliff. At that point, as mentioned in the song, “… 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.”


The next morning they receive a phone call from “Officer Obie” (Police Chief William Obanhein as himself), who asks them about the garbage. After admitting to littering, they agree to pick up the garbage and to meet him at the police officers’ station. Loading up the red VW microbus, they head to the police station where they are immediately arrested.

As the song puts it, they are then driven to the quote scene of the crime unquote where the police are engaged in a hugely elaborate investigation. At the trial, Officer Obie is anxiously awaiting the chance to show the judge the 27 8×10 color glossy photos of the crime but the judge (James Hannon as himself) happens to be blind, using a seeing eye dog, and simply levies a $25 fine, orders them to pick up the garbage and then sets them free. The garbage is eventually taken to New York and placed on a barge. Meanwhile, Arlo has fallen in love with a beautiful Asian girl, Mari-chan (Tina Chen).


Later in the movie, Arlo is called up for the draft, in a surreal depiction of the bureaucracy at the New York City military induction center on Whitehall Street. He attempts to make himself unfit for induction by acting like a homicidal maniac in front of the psychiatrist, but fails (the incident actually gets him praise). Because of Guthrie’s criminal record for littering, he is first sent to wait along with the convicts on the Group W bench, then outright rejected as unfit for military service, not because of the littering incident, but because he makes a remark about the dubiousness of considering littering to be a problem when selecting candidates for armed conflict, making the officials suspicious of “his kind” and them to send his personal records to Washington, DC.


Upon returning to the church, Arlo finds Ray and members of the motorcycle club showing home movies of a recent race. Shelly enters, obviously high, and Ray beats him until he reveals his stash of heroin, concealed in some art he has been working on. Shelly roars off into the night on his motorcycle to his death; the next day, Woody dies. Ray and Alice have a hippie-style wedding in the church, and a drunken Ray proposes to sell the church and start a country commune instead, revealing that he blames himself for Shelly’s death. The film ends with Alice standing alone in her bedraggled wedding gown on the church steps.(wikipedia)


Not to be confused with Guthrie’s 1967 debut album Alice’s Restaurant, the soundtrack to Arthur Penn’s 1969 film (as well as the movie itself) is built around Guthrie’s 16-minute folk-rock talking-blues narrative “Alice Restaurant’s Massacree,” which is included here — though this is a different recording from the classic one on Reprise Records, with slightly altered nuances and production, and every bit as funny (the original album had the title track in two parts, which have been reassembled here). The original soundtrack album was one of the finest non-orchestral soundtrack records of its era — no surprise, since Guthrie also helped play and write much of the instrumental background music in the film (Garry Sherman did some composing and arranging as well), much of which is pleasant, unassuming instrumental folk and folk-rock with some blues and country accents, broken up by a group a cappella version of “Amazing Grace” and a Joni Mitchell soundalike (Tigger Outlaw) singing Mitchell’s “Songs to Aging Children.” (Bruce Eder)


Arlo Guthrie (guitar, vocals)
Tigger Outlaw (vocals on 04.)
a bunch of unknown studio musicians

Alternate frontcovers:

01. Traveling Music (Guthrie) 1.59
02. Alice’s Restaurant Massacree, Part 1 (Guthrie) 6.34
03. The Let Down (Sherman) 0.56
04. Songs To Aging Children (Mitchell) 2.46
05. Amazing Grace (Traditional) 3.20
06. Trip To The City (Guthrie) 2.16
07. Alice’s Restaurant Massacree, Part 2 (Guthrie) 8.29
08. Crash Pad Improvs (Guthrie) 2.14
09. You’re A Fink (Guthrie/Sherman) 2.09
10. Harps And Marriage (Sherman) 1.43



More from Arlo Guthrie:

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