Several public radio stations are among those taking part once again in a longtime on-air Thanksgiving tradition, the annual broadcast of Arlo Guthrie’s epic and quirky “Alice’s Restaurant” monologue — all 18 minutes and 34 seconds of it.
The satirical folk song tells the true (but exaggerated) tale of Guthrie’s near conscription into the Vietnam war, which he avoided due to a littering offense on his record.
Guthrie first performed the piece live in 1967 on WBAI, Pacifica Radio in New York City, according to the book Active Radio: Pacifica’s Brash Experiment.
The song also was part of a dark day in pubradio history. In October 1970, KPFT in Houston was bombed off the air — for the second time in six months — while the tune played. “About 8 1/2 minutes into the song,” recalls the Houston Chronicle, “Arlo was telling the story about seeing the psychiatrist at the Army induction center in New York City. ‘I wanna kill. I mean, I mean I wanna … ‘ Then silence, and then static.” The station had previously been hit by a bomb in May of that year.
A few other tasty Turkey Day treats on pubradio:
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