Monday, February 16, 2015

Translation of Alice's Restaurant Massacree for Modern Listeners - Arlo Guthrie @folkslinger at @ASCbham Sat Feb21

"Alice's Restaurant Massacree" is a song of sorts, spoken word somewhat, anti-war story cleverly wrapping layers of whimsical hypocrisy around a subtle narrative about a non-existent restaurant in a deconsecrated church in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. It is nearly 20 minutes long (tl;dr or tl;dl). 

As you can imagine, being nearly 20 minutes long, the song's story is filled with minor complexities which can only be appreciated through actually listening for the entire nearly 20 minutes. This is a feat many today might find mentally challenging, as it requires listening to something for nearly 20 minutes, something which doesn't have video game music in the background, something which requires the bodies of human beings to generate their own laughter in response (LOL), as opposed to the convenient canned laughter which accompanies much of the entertainment we are blessed with today #laugh track.

"Alice's Restaurant" also spawned a movie, which Arlo Guthrie himself doesn't seem particularly interested in discussing these days. So we will leave it out.

The story, in my opinion (IMHO) was designed to bolster anti war sentiment in a relatively creative, non-threatening way. 

In 1965, the time of the incident storied in "Alice's Restaurant," and 1967 when it was written, the United States (USA! USA!) had what was called "The Draft." 

Now, "The Draft" was a method for choosing young men to go fight in our military campaigns overseas (Operation Force People to Fight and Kill), a lottery (Lotto), only the prize wasn't usually large sums of money, but instead a missing limb, or perhaps death, and permanent psychological scarring as a bonus. (GOOGLE: Vietnam War)

These days, instead of "The Draft" we use "The Commercials" and "The Benefits" to entice people to join the military. This makes it difficult for many to understand the sentiment expressed by the older anti-war movements, as opposed to the sentiments of the current anti-war movements, whose adherents, although largely ignored by the corporate controlled media, are allowed to freely march and organize in fairly ineffective but emotionally fulfilling mass social statements (feel good moments).

Due to the length of "Alice's Restaurant," Guthrie only performs it live every ten years or so. This Saturday at Alys Stephens Center is part of the 50th anniversary tour. 

In the past, Guthrie has at times modified the lyrics of the song to fit in with current sociopolitical events. Whether he will perform the song only as originally written or if he will modify the lyrics will require the listener to put down his or her (their) phone or other wireless device and pay attention (#focus). 

Guthrie, like his father Woody, was and is a gentle, people oriented activist, combining an appreciation for spirituality with a humanist caring for the inside and outside well being of folks. 

The Guthrie Center, located in the old Trinity Church, which was the church mentioned in the song, hosts fund raising benefits, has spiritual meetings, yoga and other events.       

He'll be at Alys Stephens Saturday, Feb 21.   


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