November 26

The obvious go to album for the American celebration of Thanksgiving is Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie:

I had the pleasure to meet Arlo back in 1997. He was performing a concert at the Great Falls Montana Civic Center and the promoter, a friend of mine, called in a favor.

“I need you to go down to the hotel and drive Arlo Guthrie to a photographer’s studio so he can get a passport photo…”

Course these were the days before everybody had a high-definition camera attached to the computer phone in their pocket… If you needed a passport photo you had to have a film camera that would take the proper size and resolution to meet the needs of the federal government!

At the appointed time I drove my beat up Jeep Cherokee to the hotel and walked into the lobby and, lo and behold, sitting there reading a newspaper was Arlo Guthrie himself

I introduced myself and he followed me out to my car for the ride to the photographer studio. It was only about a 10 minute drive and, once delivered, the process of taking the photo and doing whatever paperwork needed to be done was 15 minutes at best.

“Do you have any plans for the rest of the morning?” Arlo asked.  “None at all!” I replied… “what would you like to do?”

“I just like to see the makeup of places…” he responded, “can we just drive around and look at the town, the buildings and whatnot?”

“Sure!”, I said

For the next couple of hours we toured around Great Falls. He was especially interested in the buildings that were erected by the Works Progress Administration, the New Deal agency that employed millions of unskilled laborers to build public works projects including libraries and courthouses and the like.

Around noon we went to my favorite restaurant… where the burgers were good and they had Guinness on tap.

Afterwards I took him back to his hotel where he could get himself ready for the concert at night. I sheepishly pulled my  copy of Alice’s Restaurant  out of the back seat and asked for an autograph .  He smiled and obliged, then headed up to his room.


I worked as an usher at the theater that night and had a great view of the whole show.

Apparently he had not done the Alice’s Restaurant song in concert for some time but head recently bowed to fan pressure and started performing in again before its 30th anniversary.

“So we took the half-a-ton of garbage, put it in the back of a red VW
Microbus, took shovels and rakes and implements of destruction, and headed
On toward the city dump. Well, we got there and there was a big sign and a
Chain across the dump sayin’, “This dump is closed on Thanksgiving,”… and the rest is history.

3 thoughts on “November 26

  1. Wow – that’s a brilliant story. I grew up with this LP and even though I have never owned it myself I know I could still sing every word from both sides.


  2. On Thanksgiving I was separating household goods in preparation for a household move in a few days. This is the third move in two years so it’s getting easy. A small stack of old documents came up for the third time, but this time I said, “Damn the sentimental value, throw that crap on the going-to-the-dump pile.”

    That evening I watched Arlo’s 50th anniversary performance of Alice’s Restaurant on Public TV. I marveled at the serendipitous coincedence that within that small pile of docs pitched just hours ago, I had spied my old Selective Service draft card!


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