Arlo Guthrie is a singer, composer, musician and actor. He was born in Brooklyn to a legendary and troubled troubadour named Woody and his wife, Marjorie, who for a time danced with Martha Graham. In spite of this weighty heritage, Arlo early on established his own identity as a performer, maintaining a rare level of integrity given his fame and the ever present opportunities to capitalize on it. Guthrie’s credibility as an artist and free spirit has earned him the respect of fans and critics, and allowed him to embrace some iconoclastic stances (he’s a Republican — not the regulation uniform backstage at festivals). He also gets points for his activism (he likes peace, dislikes stupidity), though much more is projected onto his beliefs than is accounted for by what he has actively endorsed, not unlike the experience of his friend Bob Dylan.
Guthrie is probably best known for recording 18 minutes of musical mischief entitled “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” (sic). The funny, ingenious, joyfully told tale — spoken-sung — takes off from a real incident that happened to Arlo one Thanksgiving Day. He may not have realized it at the time of composition, but he’d also written a script: “Alice’s Restaurant,” the movie, came out in 1969 (when, let’s face it, what didn’t come out?) For millions of radio listeners, the song has become the keynote of the Thanksgiving holiday. Hundreds of FM stations –and now satellite too, of course–play the whole dang massacree every turkey day.