Couldn't resist the opportunity on this Thanksgiving to add Arlo Guthrie's immortal Alice's Restaurant Massacree to this blog. Played it for my students most of the years I've been teaching, though in recent years only the really hip kids get it. Hard to believe that when Arthur Penn's film version of the song (There are more songs than you think that have been adapted into films! Future post.) was released in 1969 that students from Syosset High School piled into school buses and headed into Manhattan to see it on the big screen! We didn't even wait until it came to the UA Cinema 150 or Plainview twin cinemas! (Actually, I don't think the UA Cinema was constructed yet). I think the old Syosset Theatre (see below) was our only local venue.
Anyway, as a former school administrator, I can think of no valid reason whatsoever to justify the expense and loss of class time to see a film with absolutely nothing but the most tenuous connection to the music curriculum! True, Arthur Penn did receive an Oscar nomination, but it certainly isn't one of his best films. It does, though, have one of my favorite actors, James Broderick, playing Ray. Broderick is best known these days for being Matthew's father, but he was a much better actor. Some of a certain age may remember him as Doug Lawrence, the father in the popular TV Series Family. I will remember him best as the "Old Man" in the Jean Shepherd adaptations, such as the classic "The Phantom of the Open Hearth." Anyway, below are two links to the original recording of "Alice's Restaurant". Ignore the drawings and enjoy the tune. Make it a Thanksgiving tradition, as I surely have.
UPDATE: In 2015, my wife got me birthday tickets to see the 50th Anniversary tribute tour
by Arlo Guthrie, family, and friends. While Arlo has been playing in the area every year since
the 60s at this time of year, he only performed the "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" about every
decade or so. This concert, at NJPAC in Newark, included stories and video about the
legendary Thanksgiving, anti-war tall tale, plus a memorable rendering! The packed house of
grey-haired types (but grey long hair!) thought the show was sublime.