Alice’s Restaurant Massacree

by Aurora Cowen

Thanksgiving to me has always been about sharing a special day with family and friends, enjoying a meal and showing appreciation for the amazing life that I have been blessed with. It has little to do with war or pilgrims; I rarely think about the venality and reproach of our nation’s past. I really just enjoy spending time with the ones I love. There is one Thanksgiving tradition, though, that millions of American families share each year that is meant to open our minds and our hearts to the reality of where we come from- listening to the full 18 1/2 minutes of Arlo Guthrie‘s “Alice’s Restaurant“, a song that, although it speaks of tragedy and social corruption, remains uplifting and positive as Guthrie acts as a voice of reason and a messenger of peace. Not only was this an exhibition of protest against the Vietnam war, but also against the ideals that American society has been built upon. It was (and still is) an anti-massacre movement, bringing to our attention the darker side of America. And the darker side of Thanksgiving.

I think there are so many ways that this song can be interpreted. This is, of course, a string of true events that took place in Guthrie’s life and we could simply see this as a protest to the draft. However, if you look deep enough into the context, you will see that this particular situation is in fact representative of the genocide and corruption that has taken place throughout history, hence it being a song we listen to on Thanksgiving. The symbolism is undeniable.

This holiday, take a listen to the tune for yourself and experience the magical storytelling of the ever poetic and genius, Arlo Guthrie and be reminded of the history that we are all rooted to.


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Tags: Deer Hunter, Rage Against The Machine, Buffalo Soldier, Alice, Guthrie Center