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

Alice’s Restau­rant. It’s now a Thanks­giv­ing clas­sic, and some­thing of a tra­di­tion around here. Record­ed in 1967, the 18+ minute coun­ter­cul­ture song recounts Arlo Guthrie’s real encounter with the law, start­ing on Thanks­giv­ing Day 1965. As the long song unfolds, we hear all about how a hip­pie-bat­ing police offi­cer, by the name of William “Obie” Oban­hein, arrest­ed Arlo for lit­ter­ing. (Cul­tur­al foot­note: Obie pre­vi­ous­ly posed for sev­er­al Nor­man Rock­well paint­ings, includ­ing the well-known paint­ing, “The Run­away,” that graced a 1958 cov­er of The Sat­ur­day Evening Post.) In fair­ly short order, Arlo pleads guilty to a mis­de­meanor charge, pays a $25 fine, and cleans up the thrash. But the sto­ry isn’t over. Not by a long shot. Lat­er, when Arlo (son of Woody Guthrie) gets called up for the draft, the pet­ty crime iron­i­cal­ly becomes a basis for dis­qual­i­fy­ing him from mil­i­tary ser­vice in the Viet­nam War. Guthrie recounts this with some bit­ter­ness as the song builds into a satir­i­cal protest against the war: “I’m sit­tin’ here on the Group W bench ’cause you want to know if I’m moral enough to join the Army, burn women, kids, hous­es and vil­lages after bein’ a lit­ter­bug.” And then we’re back to the cheery cho­rus again: “You can get any­thing you want, at Alice’s Restau­rant.”

We have fea­tured Guthrie’s clas­sic dur­ing past years. But, for this Thanks­giv­ing, we give you the illus­trat­ed ver­sion. Hap­py Thanks­giv­ing to every­one who plans to cel­e­brate the hol­i­day today.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

William S. Bur­roughs Reads His Sar­cas­tic “Thanks­giv­ing Prayer” in a 1988 Film By Gus Van Sant

Mar­i­lyn Monroe’s Hand­writ­ten Turkey-and-Stuff­ing Recipe

William Shat­ner Raps About How to Not Kill Your­self Deep Fry­ing a Turkey

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 13 Tips for What to Do with Your Left­over Thanks­giv­ing Turkey


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Comments (3)
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  • A. Michael Uhlmann says:

    There is a mix-up of two police offi­cers in your arti­cle. The obit of the New York Times, takes you to Dick Clements, an offi­cer who posed for Rock­well and was the “mod­el” for Run­away. Obie, who must have posed for oth­er paint­ings died at a dif­fer­ent age and was not the mod­el for “Run­away”.

  • Bill W. says:

    Weird that Richard Nixon had a pur­chased-copy of that record…Pat (a for­mer wait­ress) must have had some­thing to do with it!

  • bryan Scott says:

    I still have my vinyl copy played many times in 1969 dur­ing the UCSB riots.

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