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Alice’s Restaurant Massacre

Lyrics as reprinted in This is the Arlo Guthrie Songbook, New York, NY, 1969, pp. 91-95.
Additional lyrics (chorus) from Digital Tradition (file name: ALICREST)
© 1966, 1967, 1969 Appleseed Music Inc.

CHORUS:
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 RECITATION:
This song is called “Alice’s Restaurant.” 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. That’s why I call the song “Alice’s Restaurant.”

Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago… 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 Facha, the dog.

And livin’ in the bell tower like that, they got a lot of room downstairs where the pews used to be, and 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 here and found all the garbage in there and we decided that 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 the dump sayin’, “This dump is closed on Thanksgiving,” and we’d never heard of a dump closed on Thanksgiving before, and with tears in our eyes, we drove off into the sunset lookin’ for another place to put the garbage.

We didn’t find one till we came to a side road, and off the side of the side road was another fifteen-foot cliff, and at the bottom of the cliff was another pile of garbage. And we decided that one big pile was better than two little piles, and rather than bring that one up, we decided to throw ours down. That’s what we did.

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 a envelope at the bottom of a half a ton of garbage and I 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 speakin’ to Obie for about forty-five minutes on the telephone, we finally arrived at the truth of the matter and he 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 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 Station.

Now, friends, there was only one of two things that Obie could’ve done at the Police Officer Station, and the first was that he could’ve given us a medal for bein’ so brave and honest on the telephone (which wasn’t very likely, and we didn’t expect it), and the other thing was that he could’ve bawled us out and told us never to be seen drivin’ garbage around in the vicinity again, which is what we expected.

But when we got to the Police Officer 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 can’t pick up the garbage with these here handcuffs on.” He said: “Shut up kid, and get in the back of the patrol car.” Read more