Why Is Arlo Guthrie’s ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ a Thanksgiving Anthem?

Have been listening to Alice’s since around 1970. Always makes me smile and I always stop and listen when it is played on the radio.


Long an annual Thanksgiving tradition on the radio, Arlo Guthrie’s 18-minute folk classic “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” (more popularly known as “Alice’s Restaurant”) stuffs the airwaves every time we sit down with our families to eat and give thanks.

Guthrie famously tells the story of a littering incident between him and a police officer, and its effect on his status when trying to enter the Vietnam War through the draft. The incident happened on Thanksgiving Day, according to Guthrie, and part of the song involves his Thanksgiving dinner with Alice and his friends.

But is the song about Thanksgiving? Not really. The littering incident in question just happened to take place on that particular day. Guthrie mentions Thanksgiving several times early in the song, but that’s the extent of the relation the song truly has to Thanksgiving.

So that means it’s really an anti-war protest song, right? It came out in…

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