By Steven Skelley and Thomas Routzong
Sunny Harbor Publishing
When we told people we were invited to the opening concert of the Arlo Guthrie Alice’s Restaurant 50th Anniversary Tour, we received an interesting variety of responses.
There was, “Who is Arlo Guthrie?”
And, “Didn’t he have a song in the 1960’s or something?”
And, “Arlo Guthrie! I love his music.”
But our favorite was, “Oh my God! I had such a crush on him when I was a teenager!”
For those who may not know or who may have forgotten Arlo Guthrie is – possibly because of certain substances you may or may not have sampled in the 1960’s at Woodstock or elsewhere – Guthrie is a 1960’s singer/songwriter and the son of folk music legend Woody Guthrie.
Arlo Guthrie had a hit record with his smooth rendition of “City of New Orleans” but his iconic musical masterpiece is the 18 minute long “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.”
“Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” is a fabulously funny, true life experience that all started when Guthrie went to a restaurant owned by his friend Alice for Thanksgiving and offered to take out the trash.
One absurd thing happened after another and soon Guthrie was in handcuffs, then in jail, then watching the police take hundreds of photos of the trash, then in front of a blind judge who couldn’t see the photographic evidence and finally in front of a Vietnam Draft Board where he was banned from fighting in Vietnam because of his trash arrest record.
The 18 minute song is a study in the absurdities of life and Guthrie is a master at milking every delicious moment. You just can’t help but laugh throughout.
The Arlo Guthrie Alice’s Restaurant 50th Anniversary Tour launched in Daytona Beach, FL and will continue through 40 cities.
We were there on opening night in Daytona Beach at the Peabody Theater with hundreds of eager fans. Gray-haired Guthrie sauntered onstage and segued effortlessly from song to story to joke and back to song again time after time. Fans laughed, clapped and sang along. The concert even ended with a singalong.
Guthrie’s stories of his appearance at the legendary Woodstock concert had some audience members laughing so hard they were in tears.
We asked Guthrie how he felt about being so obviously adored by his fans.
In classic laid-back yet introspective Guthrie style, Arlo said, “I didn’t think the show was as good as I had planned it to be but it was the first in a long tour so we’re still working out the bugs. It’ll get much better in a week or so. Never-the-less, we had a pretty good time even with all the goofs and lighting problems. It was great to see and hear so many people having a good time, not only remembering, but looking forward to the challenges of social change and the basic evolution of civilization.”
The comment about social change and other similar comments throughout his career are why some critics have labeled Guthrie a radical and an anti-war protestor. They are wrong. Guthrie is not anti-war or anti-conservative. He is famously and intellectually “anti-stupidity” in whatever its form.
At one point in the concert, he even said, “I am not anti-war. I’m just anti-stupid.”
Five decades removed his idyllic teen years, Guthrie is still the idealist.
“If the world was meant to be wonderful for everyone, it would have been so by now. It’s time to realize that the world was made for the imperfections in everyone. That’s why snowflakes are all different and why beauty looks different everywhere you go. I believe we are made and divinely inspired to love one another. Love doesn’t need laws, or a college degree, or some fame and fortune. It only needs to be valued in ourselves and in others. That’s what the world was made for as far as I’m concerned,” Guthrie said.
We asked Guthrie what he thought about the ongoing battle for LGBT equality.
“For me as for many others, equality means being treated as if you are normal – like everyone else. That’s as true for LGBT folks as others for whom real equality has been elusive. It requires us to not only take into account that everyone has equal rights, but also special insights and valuable contributions that can only be made when we acknowledge the uniqueness of others whatever their personal stories may be,” Guthrie told us.
If you’d like to enjoy this socially conscious, witty, talented musician for yourself, you can catch the Arlo Guthrie: Alice’s Restaurant 50th Anniversary Tour at one of the following venues (See all locations and dates HERE).
Article by Steven Skelley and Thomas Routzong. Copyright 2014 Sunny Harbor Publishing. Contact Us: Sunny Harbor Publishing, PO Box 560318, Rockledge, FL 32956. Phone: 321-446-7552. Email: SunnyHarborPublishing@yahoo.com.