Alice’s Restaurant is 1 Hour Away, Or Is It?
As long as I can recall and probably longer the Arlo Guthrie song "Alice's Restaurant" has been played on Classic Rock radio each and every Thanksgiving. It is as much a part of the holiday as turkey, stuffing and football. Q1057, the Capital Region's Classic Rock Station will play the song, which is actually called "Alice's Restaurant Massacree", Thursday afternoon at 1 with a "second helping" served at 5pm.
The lyrics are based on true events that happened in Arlo Guthrie's life but where is Alice's restaurant? Who is Alice? Can you really get anything you want at Alice's restaurant? I did some digging and the first thing I will share with you is that there wasn't a place called Alice's restaurant. The restaurant referred to in the song was located at 40 Main Street in Stockbridge, MA. and was called The Back Room. Alice owned it, making it Alice's restaurant. Ironically the eating establishment closed in 1966 nearly a year before the album and title track were released.
If you have heard the tune you know the general story. Arlo get's together with his friends Alice and Ray on Thanksgiving day. The couple were living in a church in Great Barrington, MA and upon Guthrie's arrival he offered to help dispose of a large amount of garbage for them. He and Ray head to the dump which was closed for the holiday so they left the garbage on top of a pile previously left by someone else. The entire dump was traced back to Arlo and Ray and they were subsequently arrested and convicted of littering. This conviction led to a rejection by the draft board and Arlo was not drafted. These things we know but who is Alice?
Alice May Brock was born in New York but spent her adult life in Massachusetts. An artist by choice and career restaurateur operating a few restaurants over the years. She and Ray divorced and in 1979 Ray passed away at the age of 51. The most recent address I could find for Alice was in Provincetown, MA.
As for the church where the Brock's lived that Thanksgiving day, Arlo Guthrie purchased the building at 2 Van Deusenville Road in Great Barrington, Ma. Today it is known as the Guthrie Center at the Old Trinity Church which is a nondenominational interfaith meeting place and occasional Folk music venue. Find more at guthriecenter.org.
The song runs 18:20 in length and is the only track on side one of the album. We will play the song twice on Thursday at Q1057 and maybe this time you will hear it differently or maybe just the same way you always have on Thanksgiving day.
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