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Alice's Restaurant Massacree by Arlo Guthrie

Album: Alice's RestaurantReleased: 1967Charted:
97
Get some Geography in the Alice's Restaurant Massacree Songplaces
  • This song is called Alice's Restaurant, and it's about Alice, and the
    Restaurant, but Alice's Restaurant is not the name of the restaurant,
    That's just the name of the song, and that's why I called the song Alice's
    Restaurant.

    You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
    You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
    Walk right in it's around the back
    Just a half a mile from the railroad track
    You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant

    Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago, was on, two years ago on
    Thanksgiving, when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the
    Restaurant, but Alice doesn't live in the restaurant, she lives in the
    Church nearby the restaurant, in the bell-tower, with her husband Ray and
    Fasha the dog. And livin' in the bell tower like that, they got a lot of
    Room downstairs where the pews used to be in. Havin' all that room,
    Seein' as how they took out all the pews, they decided that they didn't
    Have to take out their garbage for a long time.

    We got up there, we found all the garbage in there, and we decided it'd be
    A friendly gesture for us to take the garbage down to the city dump. So
    We took the half a ton of garbage, put it in the back of a red VW
    Microbus, took shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed
    On toward the city dump.

    Well we got there and there was a big sign and a chain across across the
    Dump saying, "Closed on Thanksgiving." And we had never heard of a dump
    Closed on Thanksgiving before, and with tears in our eyes we drove off
    Into the sunset looking for another place to put the garbage.

    We didn't find one. Until we came to a side road, and off the side of the
    Side road there was another fifteen foot cliff and at the bottom of the
    Cliff there was another pile of garbage. And we decided that one big pile
    Is better than two little piles, and rather than bring that one up we
    Decided to throw our's down.

    That's what we did, and drove back to the church, had a thanksgiving
    Dinner that couldn't be beat, went to sleep and didn't get up until the
    Next morning, when we got a phone call from officer Obie. He said, "Kid,
    We found your name on an envelope at the bottom of a half a ton of
    Garbage, and just wanted to know if you had any information about it." And
    I said, "Yes, sir, Officer Obie, I cannot tell a lie, I put that envelope
    Under that garbage."

    After speaking to Obie for about fourty-five minutes on the telephone we
    Finally arrived at the truth of the matter and said that we had to go down
    And pick up the garbage, and also had to go down and speak to him at the
    Police officer's station. So we got in the red VW microbus with the
    Shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed on toward the
    Police officer's station.

    Now friends, there was only one or two things that Obie coulda done at
    The police station, and the first was he could have given us a medal for
    Being so brave and honest on the telephone, which wasn't very likely, and
    We didn't expect it, and the other thing was he could have bawled us out
    And told us never to be see driving garbage around the vicinity again,
    Which is what we expected, but when we got to the police officer's station
    There was a third possibility that we hadn't even counted upon, and we was
    Both immediately arrested. Handcuffed. And I said "Obie, I don't think I
    Can pick up the garbage with these handcuffs on." He said, "Shut up, kid.
    Get in the back of the patrol car."

    And that's what we did, sat in the back of the patrol car and drove to the
    Quote Scene of the Crime unquote. I want tell you about the town of
    Stockbridge, Massachusets, where this happened here, they got three stop
    Signs, two police officers, and one police car, but when we got to the
    Scene of the Crime there was five police officers and three police cars,
    Being the biggest crime of the last fifty years, and everybody wanted to
    Get in the newspaper story about it. And they was using up all kinds of
    Cop equipment that they had hanging around the police officer's station.
    They was taking plaster tire tracks, foot prints, dog smelling prints, and
    They took twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy photographs with circles
    And arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each
    One was to be used as evidence against us. Took pictures of the approach,
    The getaway, the northwest corner the southwest corner and that's not to
    Mention the aerial photography.

    After the ordeal, we went back to the jail. Obie said he was going to put
    Us in the cell. Said, "Kid, I'm going to put you in the cell, I want your
    Wallet and your belt." And I said, "Obie, I can understand you wanting my
    Wallet so I don't have any money to spend in the cell, but what do you
    Want my belt for?" And he said, "Kid, we don't want any hangings." I
    Said, "Obie, did you think I was going to hang myself for littering?"
    Obie said he was making sure, and friends Obie was, cause he took out the
    Toilet seat so I couldn't hit myself over the head and drown, and he took
    Out the toilet paper so I couldn't bend the bars roll out the - roll the
    Toilet paper out the window, slide down the roll and have an escape. Obie
    Was making sure, and it was about four or five hours later that Alice
    (remember Alice? It's a song about Alice), Alice came by and with a few
    Nasty words to Obie on the side, bailed us out of jail, and we went back
    To the church, had a another thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat,
    And didn't get up until the next morning, when we all had to go to court.

    We walked in, sat down, Obie came in with the twenty seven eight-by-ten
    Colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back
    Of each one, sat down. Man came in said, "All rise." We all stood up,
    And Obie stood up with the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy
    Pictures, and the judge walked in sat down with a seeing eye dog, and he
    Sat down, we sat down. Obie looked at the seeing eye dog, and then at the
    Twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows
    And a paragraph on the back of each one, and looked at the seeing eye dog.
    And then at twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles
    And arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one and began to cry,
    'Cause Obie came to the realization that it was a typical case of American
    Blind justice, and there wasn't nothing he could do about it, and the
    Judge wasn't going to look at the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy
    Pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each
    One explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us. And
    We was fined $50 and had to pick up the garbage in the snow, but thats not
    What I came to tell you about.

    Came to talk about the draft.

    They got a building down New York City, it's called Whitehall Street,
    Where you walk in, you get injected, inspected, detected, infected,
    Neglected and selected. I went down to get my physical examination one
    Day, and I walked in, I sat down, got good and drunk the night before, so
    I looked and felt my best when I went in that morning. `Cause I wanted to
    Look like the all-American kid from New York City, man I wanted, I wanted
    To feel like the all-, I wanted to be the all American kid from New York,
    And I walked in, sat down, I was hung down, brung down, hung up, and all
    Kinds o' mean nasty ugly things. And I walked in and sat down and they gave
    Me a piece of paper, said, "Kid, see the psychiatrist, room 604."

    And I went up there, I said, "Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I
    Wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and
    Guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill,
    KILL, KILL."

    And I started jumpin' up and down, yellin' "KILL! Kill!" and he started
    Jumpin' up and down with me, and we was both jumpin' up and down, yellin'
    "Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!" and the sergeant came over, pinned a medal on me
    Sent me down the hall, said "You're our boy". Didn't feel too good about it

    Proceeded down the hall, gettin' more injections, inspections, detections
    Neglections, and all kinds of stuff that they was doin' to me at the thing
    There, and I was there for two hours three hours four hours I was
    There for a long time goin' through all kinds of mean, nasty, ugly things
    And I was just havin' a tough time there, and they was inspectin',
    Injectin', every single part of me, and they was leavin' no part untouched!

    Proceeded through, and I finally came to see the very last man. I walked in,
    Sat down, after a whole big thing there. I walked up, and I said, "what do
    You want?" He said, "kid, we only got one question, have you ever been
    Arrested?"

    And I proceeded to tell him the story of Alice's Restaurant Massacree with
    Full orchestration and five-part harmony and stuff like that, and other phenomenon

    He stopped me right there and said, "kid, have you ever been to court?" And
    I proceeded to tell him the story of the twenty-seven 8 x 10 colored glossy
    Pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one

    He stopped me right there and said, "kid, I want you to go over and sit down
    On that bench that says 'Group W'"

    And I walked over to the bench there, and there's Group W is where they
    Put you if you may not be moral enough to join the army after committin'
    Your special crime

    There was all kinds of mean, nasty, ugly-lookin' people on the bench there
    There was mother-rapers father-stabbers father-rapers!
    Father-rapers sittin' right there on the bench next to me! And they was mean
    And nasty and ugly and horrible and crime fightin' guys were sittin' there
    On the bench, and the meanest, ugliest, nastiest one the meanest
    Father-raper of them all was comin' over to me, and he was mean and
    Ugly and nasty and horrible and all kinds of things, and he sat down next to
    Me. He said, "Kid, what'd you get?"

    I said, "I didn't get nothin'. I had to pay fifty dollars and pick up the garbage."

    He said, "What were you arrested for, kid?" and I said, "litterin'"
    And they all moved away from me on the bench there, with the hairy eyeball
    And all kinds of mean, nasty things, till I said, "And creatin' a nuisance"
    And they all came back, shook my hand, and we had a great time on the
    Bench talkin' about crime, mother-stabbin', father-rapin', all kinds
    Of groovy things that we was talkin' about on the bench, and everything was fine

    We was smokin' cigarettes and all kinds of things, until the sergeant came
    Over, had some paper in his hand, held it up and said
    "Kids, this-piece-of-paper's-got-47-words-37-sentences-58-words-we-wanna-
    Know-details-of-the-crime-time-of-the-crime-and-any-other-kind-of-thing-
    You-gotta-say-pertaining-to-and-about-the-crime-I-want-to-know-arresting-
    Officer's-name-and-any-other-kind-of-thing-you-gotta-say"

    And he talked for forty-five minutes and nobody understood a word that he
    Said

    But we had fun fillin' out the forms and playin' with the pencils on the
    Bench there

    I filled out the Massacree with the four-part harmony. Wrote it down there
    Just like it was and everything was fine. And I put down my pencil, and I
    Turned over the piece of paper, and there on the other side in
    The middle of the other side away from everything else on the other
    Side in parentheses capital letters quotated read
    The following words "kid, have you rehabilitated yourself?"

    I went over to the sergeant. Said, "Sergeant, you got a lot of god-damned
    Gall to ask me if I've rehabilitated myself! I mean I mean I
    Mean that you send I'm sittin' here on the bench I mean 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"

    He looked at me and said, "kid, we don't like your kind! We're gonna send
    Your fingerprints off to Washington"!

    And, friends, somewhere in Washington, enshrined in some little folder, is a
    Study in black and white of my fingerprints

    And the only reason I'm singin' you the song now is 'cause you may know
    Somebody in a similar situation

    Or you may be in a similar situation, and if you're in a situation like
    That, there's only one thing you can do

    Walk into the shrink wherever you are, just walk in, say, "Shrink, you
    Can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant", and walk out

    You know, if one person, just one person, does it, they may think he's
    Really sick and they won't take him

    And if two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both faggots and
    They won't take either of them

    And if three people do it! Can you imagine three people walkin' in, singin'
    A bar of "Alice's Restaurant" and walkin' out? They may think it's an
    Organization!

    And can you imagine fifty people a day? I said FIFTY people a day
    Walkin' in, singin' a bar of "Alice's Restaurant" and walkin' out? Friends
    They may think it's a Movement, and that's what it is THE Alices's
    Restaurant anti-massacre movement! And all you gotta do to join is to
    Sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar

    With feelin'

    You can get anything you want at Alice's restaurant
    You can get anything you want at Alice's restaurant
    Walk right in, it's around the back
    Just a half a mile from the railroad track
    You can get anything you want at Alice's restaurantWriter/s: ARLO GUTHRIE
    Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, THE BICYCLE MUSIC COMPANY
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind
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Comments: 35

It is not Officer Obenheim in Rockwell's painting, The Runaway, as Beverly in Norfolk, VA said. It is Massachusetts State Trooper Richard J. Clemens, a neighbor of Norman Rockwell. You can read all about the history of the painting here: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/Norman-Rockwells-Neighborhood.html#Roann - Apalachin, Ny
Yes, Don Frankland, MA. You did hear this on KSHE 95 in the early 80s. I stayed out all night on Wednesday, for the unknown holiday, of everyone staying out for the bar party,the night before Thanksgiving.
All of the friends in college come home to party hard that night. When I was in 7th grade,we had a young female teacher,that brought her little record player to school. Her name was Ms.Glen, we listened to ALICE's Restaurant and wrote a paper on it. We wrote what we thought it was about. CLOUDS, by JONIE MITCHEL was next. That was in 1969, I joined the army in 1973 when I seen the HELECOPTERS thrown off the side of the aircraft carriers, as people were hanging on the landing skids to get out of HANOI VEITNAM. The class before me was drafted to go to that war. NIXON was a proven crook, They had killed KENEDY in DALLAS TX.
A lot of young men had been shot for nothing, other than being brave! I had thought this song was the smartest thing to get out of the draft, you can pull. I called MARK KLOSE @ KSHE95 from my shop to help all.
Maybe you do not understand the war, but to be forced to participate, in your death, has real meaning to yourself, and others. That night I almost died, partying so hard, I learned my lesson, turned to GOD!
P.S. = We made fun of the old guy at the dump, we called him ; THE DUMP GOMER, What a proud man, not a FOOL!
Robert J - Columbia , Il
Brilliant song!! Met Arlo in Cape Town in 1999 where he played a one off gig!! Photos are somewhere!!!Steve - Cape Town, South Africa
When I hear this song, it reminds me of the late, great guitar player, Mike Reilly of Depew, NY
Love you Mike and miss you and your Dad, Archie....
Brady - Niagara Falls, Ny
Whatever happened to Ray and Alice Brock? More than likely without Ray amnd especially Alice there wouln't have been an "Alice's Restaurant" or an "Alice's Restaurant Massacre."Charles Hollingswort - Leeds, Al
"They got 3 stop signs, 2 police officers, and 1 po-lice car. But when we got to the scene of the crime, there was 5 police officers and 3 police cars..."

I always wonder "how many stop signs are there now?" lol
Harold - University Park, Pa
My parents listen to "Alice's Restaurant Massacre" every year on Thanksgiving day - now I understand why. I just did a research paper based on Arlo's great antiwar song!!Tyler - Corinth, Tx
I would like to re-re-dedicate this to Ted Johnson (1955- ?)of Redmeat.com fame. He, Milkman Dan, Mister Wally and myself would cruise around town in our barely street-legal '76 Vega while listening to this song, sniffin' glue and tossing chicken embryos at unsuspecting mimes.Mike - Matawan, Nj
Does anyone know why this song was not performed at Woodstock? Arlo performed on day one and it is my understanding that the performers were asked to play extended sets that day, so it would make sense to play something long and something that was a hit. The movie came out a little later that year, right??Greg - Franklin, Ky
A Thanksgiving CLASSIC to listen when your eating your Thanksgiving Dinner with your family. I Love Listening to Alice's Restaurant Massacree Every Thanksgiving Twice At 12noon and 6pm on 101.5 WPDH.Joey Freer - Kingston, Ny
This is one of the best anti-war songs ever recorded. Even pro-war people get a kick out of it.Ted - Phoenix, Az
How good is this song! He's so funny! "We talked about father rapin' mother stabbin' and all kinds of groovy things" hahahahahaha lawdy! The Motorcycle Song is also pretty damn hilarious "Now as you all know, and as fate would have it, I didnt die, I landed on top of a po-lice car....and he died" ahahahahaha please somebody stop meNady - Adelaide, Australia
I have noticed a few comments mention this lyrics/story are this and that.
Just thought i'd mention that i've seen Arlo play three times and had at one time or another between 1/2 Doz too a Doz live bootlegs, ranging from the terrible to amazing.

The one constant thing about all these gigs (apart from enjoying every min') is that he never plays the song the same way twice!
Graham - Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
I first heard this song in St. Louis, on KSHE-95 back in the mid-80's, and when I enlisted, I had to remind myself not to sing a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walk out. I was volunteering, after all.
I find it funny now how much attitudes have changed. I mean, from a 21st century perspective, its commendable that Officer Obie was so forward thinking as to take such an environmentalist view of illigal disposal and use every means available to persue those responsible. Hippies talked big about loving the Earth, but Obie did it.
Don - Franklin, Ma
I would like to re-dedicate this to Phil Johnson (1955-2003). Phil introduced me to this song 14 years ago, it was one of his very favorites. He used to quote from this song's lyrics often. Phil was a big Bob Dylan fan (Woody Guthrie was a big influence on Dylan) and a big fan of Arlo Guthrie too. Thanks Phil! We remember you often.Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Wa
I was in Nam in 65 and 66 and first heard this song in 1990, I think it is hilarious. We need some levity now and then. Arlo, Woody and Dylan are the best. Capt Walt, Roswell, GaCapt Walt - Roswell, Ga
Officer Obanheim was also the subject of a Norman Rockwell painting called the Runaway. He is sitting at a lunch counter where he and a short order cook are trying to talk a young boy out of running away. You can find more information on him here. http://www.arlo.net/obie.shtmlBeverly - Norfolk, Va
He wasn't really ineligible for the draft because of his 'criminal past' but because his father suffered from Huntingon's disease.Boris - Gent, Belgium
I was ineligible for the draft, but I tried to rough up a State Trooper back in 1962. Littering? Poppycock!Darrell - Eugene
this songs hilarious! we just got to listen to it in my history class and what a great way to study war protest songsShannon - Sioux Falls, Sd
It was 27 8x10 color glossy photographs....Larry, Escondido, CALarry - Esconddido, Ca
Trinity Church on Division St. isn't in Stockbridge, it's in HousatonicPatrick - Housatonic, Ma
I faithfully listened to this song every Thanksgiving until my cassette tape broke in 1998. I still use the term, "28 color glossy photos with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one . . ." whenever my boss wants to over-powerpoint a presentation. Fewer and fewer people get the joke as time goes on. Thanks, Arlo, for the lesson in civil disobedience.Lalah - Wasilla, Ak
Mark, hate to break it to you, but Woody Guthrie is played by an actor named Joseph Boley for the movie. See allmovie.com. The movie was made after Woody's death. I'm sure it was a faithful reenactment. Bob Dylan also visited Woody in the hospital, and describes in his book Chronicles meeting a twelve year old Arlo when going to Woody's home, per Woody's suggestion, to gather some unused music scores of Woody's, though he never found them (he says they were found and used by someone else years later). Not being an 18 year old hippy in the sixties, I wouldn't take such a cavalier attitude about dumping a bunch of crap on somebody's property, even if there was already trash there, but it sure *is* ironic that it kept him out of the war!!Fyodor - Denver, Co
ARLO Guthrie is best! =)
I have seen his Woodstock performance for so many times and i simply love it! =)
arlo so rocks, man! mnuah!
Can you dig it?
Kirsten - Ddorf, Germany
Sure will make me think about where to dump my garbage if the dump is closed--especially on Thanksgiving!Dave - Oak Park, Mi
I love this song! What really hits it is that I live in the area where this all took place. Stockbridge probably did have 1 stop sign back then, maybe 4 or 5 now that I can recall, and if you've seen the movie, that's how the Lee District Court still looks today, a narrow hallway leading to a small room that can seat maybe 50 people at most.James - Lee, Ma
Arlo Guthrie rules! This is such a cool song and as someone else mentioned, a great example of hippie use of humor to lampoon authority and protest wrongs. I found an early live version of this from 1966 at Gerdes Folk City (a long gone coffeehouse in Greenwich Village where everyone who was anyone in folk music used to play) where the spoken part is totally different..nothing about the littering or the draft, but just an ad-lib about how the song would spread all over the world once the crowd at Gerdes that night started singing it!Jerrybear - Flint, Mi
Arlo mentions during the song that he has been playing the song for 25 minutes and could continue to play this song for another 25 minutes. This statement is made 16 minutes and 56 seconds into his epic song.Barry - New York, Nc
In the South, "motorcycle" ALWAYS rhymes with pickle. The correct pronunciation is "motuhsickle" or "big Harley" See Ray Stevens' song "Shriner's Convention" for further details. Y'all have a nice day, y'heah?Jude - Thomasville, Ga
Chief Obanheim was nothing if not a good sport. He portrayed himself in the movie of the massacree appearing as "Officer Obie." Alice Brock also made a cameo appearance, and, of course, Arlo made a touching visit on camera to see his father Woody shortly before his death in October 1967.Mark - Falls Church, Va
I happen to like the invented rhyme of motorSICKLE in the song "I Don't Want a Pickle".
Great stuff!
Susy - New York, Ny
Arlo followed this up with "I Don't Want a Pickle", met with less enthusiasm than "Alice", perhaps due to his choice of rhyming ... "... I just want to ride on my motorSICKLE."Sled - St. Louis, Ne
I love this song, great use of comedy as a tool against war. It's impossible to stop listening to this song once its started, even if you know how the story goes you have to listen to how it ends.
I really love the way he sends up the police officer, and the military people.
Geoff - Adelaide, Australia
I would like to dedicate this to Phil Johnson (1955-2003). Phil introduced me to this song, it was one of his very favorites. A big Dylan fan (Woody Guthrie was a big influence on Dylan) and a big fan of Arlo Guthrie too.
Thanks Phil!
Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Wa
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