A few years ago MD and I were in a product development meeting with a handful of thirty something people. During a break, she and I were huddled together having our own little discussion about something when the meeting got started back up. In an effort to get our attention, one of the other people said, ‘Hey, you two, we need to get going again.’
I looked up and said, ‘Sorry, we were just having fun fillin’ out the forms and playin’ with the pencils on the bench there.’
Blank stares all around. ‘What forms?’
‘Huh?’ says I.
‘What forms are you talking about?’
‘There are no forms. I was just quoting that line from Alice’s Restaurant. You know, from where he was on the Group W bench’
More blank stares.
‘You know’, I explained, ‘the song, Alice’s Restaurant.’
Still more blank stares.
‘By Arlo Guthrie.’
‘Who’s Arlo Guthrie?’
It finally dawned on me that these kids hadn’t a clue who Arlo Guthrie was or anything about his famous song, Alice’s Restaurant. Their parents I’m sure knew, but the kids didn’t. I tried to explain that the song was a huge Vietnam war protest song. That it was hilarious. That there had been a movie made of it starring all the characters in the song, including Officer Obie. And that the real Officer Obie played himself in the movie. And that Arlo Guthrie was the son of the famous folk singer Woody Guthrie. But my efforts were all sort of like performing a card trick for a dog. They seemed interested, but they really didn’t have a clue. It was a total generational disconnect.
So, for those of you who remember the song with the infectious melody, here is the original recording below in two parts. Listen and feel the waves of nostalgia wash over you. For those of you who, like the thirty somethings in that meeting, have never heard the song, sit back and listen. It’s not something that won’t appeal to you. All of our kids are now 30-something, and they all love the song. And can quote parts of it. And would have known exactly what I meant.
And today is the perfect time for this song, which has become a Thanksgiving tradition for about 40 years. You’ll see why when you listen.
Here’s to hoping that you, too, can get anything that you want. And that you have a Thanksgiving dinner that can’t be beat.
Here is an illustrated version of the original recording. Enjoy!
If you want a more recent version, the YouTubes below are Mr. Guthrie singing his famous song 30 years later. Still pretty good. And pretty close to the original.