Theresa's Stockbridge Cafe, Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Alice's Restaurant Massacree by Arlo Guthrie

Play Video
We found your name on an envelope
At the bottom of a half a ton of garbage Read full Lyrics

"And it's one, two, three, what are we fighting for?" No, wait, that's a different Vietnam-era folk-singer protest-song in 1967.

"Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average." No, wait, that's a different radio show.

"Book one, chapter one, page one of The Dark Tower..." No, that's a different graphic novel.

Alice's Restaurant is actually a church<br>Photo: <a href="" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a>, CC2.5Alice's Restaurant is actually a church
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, CC2.5
Friends and folks and those of you who slipped in the door without payin', don't you hate it when your old man is a beer and a half into sunset and starts tellin' you this long-winded story with digression followin' digression, excepting, of course, the digressions from the digressions, until you wonder if it's ever going to end, but you stick around anyway because the telling is so gosh-darned charmin' on its own that you don't even care about the run-on sentences anymore and you might even just throw caution to the wind and follow anywhere the story takes you? And the next thing y'know, you're off in the weeds where even the bloodhounds can't tell you how we got here and Pops is ramblin' along full stout talkin' about whatever groovy thing popped into his head next, like the little white balls in the cage at the bingo parlor? And wouldn't you know it, someone comes in in the middle and wants to know how it started, so you have to start over. Don't you love that?

The paragraph could have gone on, but we should break to let folks go to the bathroom if they need to.

"Alice's Restaurant Massacree" is a little bit of song - wait, first I want to tell you about my dog. I had a dog once. See, they haven't invented time travel yet, so that's the only instantiation that you can have a dog is once. You have it a while, it dies, and then that's it, no more dog.

Anyway, "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" is a little bit of song and a whole lot of story that originally lasted about eighteen minutes, although since then Arlo Guthrie reserves the right to make it last as long as he pleases, which is until he gets tired of playing it. It was a big hit in 1967, being one part Vietnam-era folk-singer protest-song, one part radio drama, and one part audiobook, but actually more of a live comedy routine.
Arlo getting ready to eatArlo getting ready to eat
Yes, it's based on a true story, but Arlo is a performer and an artist, so his version is so much better in the telling that we really aren't going to haggle about what is and isn't an exaggeration. For the record, while the one-and-only Alice M. Brock - original owner and namesake of "Alice's Restaurant" - lived with her husband in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the original Alice's Restaurant is located in Stockbridge, about a six mile trek down the road a piece. She had the restaurant for only a year before selling it, possibly because you can't make any money laying out lavish Thanksgiving feasts like that. The restaurant has become "Theresa's Stockbridge Cafe" as of 2009.

But, should an unthinkable nuclear war happen upon us and leave us all in the Mad Max post-Holocaust world scrambling to survive amidst the rubble and the subsequent fall of civilization causing us to lose track of the one and only true Mecca of Vietnam-era folk-singer protest-song historical establishment dedicated to the consumption of sumptuous presumptuous supplements of traditional annual holiday gratitude, plug these coordinates (42.227941°N 73.3633°W) into your GPS modern doohickey thing and the location will be yours forever, courtesy of Wikipedia.

It might come in handy if you ever find yourself in the neighborhood and have an appetite. After all, you can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant. Except Alice, of course.

Pete Trbovich
November 9, 2009
Alice's Restaurant Massacree Songfacts
Browse all Songplaces

Comments: 5

  • Heidi from Ancram Nyate at the cafe about 3 1/2 4 years ago food was good it was so neat to get that chance sad its now closed i wanted to take my husband we listen to the annual playing of Alice's Resturant on Q104.3 NYC each and every Thanksgiving day at high noon hubby and I each pour a glass of wine and sine along at the top of our lungs the dogs look at us like we are nuts
  • Red from Rindgewe went to alice's restaurant for lunch and it was closed. we went to the antique dealer. He said it was closed for 3 years. someone should open it up as a museum.
  • R. Jay from Nova Scotia18 minutes of pure entertainment.
  • Doug Gould from HalifaxThe restaurant is in Stockbridge, not Great Barrington. The church is in GB.
  • Zoe from Englandbrings me back to the old days!
see more comments