Alice’s Restaurant

Music Has Been A Way To Resist For A Long Time

From The Atlantic:

‘The lyrics’ synopsis: On Thanksgiving 1965, Guthrie and some pals went to throw out garbage from the church where the titular Alice lived, but the dump was closed for the holiday. So he instead tossed the waste at an unsanctioned site, was caught and arrested, and his arrest prevented him from being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War. In the song he tells this story with heapings of humor and twang, and it culminates in him advising would-be draft-dodgers to go into their draft office and sing the chorus of the tune to show themselves unfit for service.

‘The song has been portrayed as anti-war, a Baby Boomer tale of resistance. But if you actually listen, it’s not quite that. The Guthrie of the song tells the draft psychologist, “Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead, burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill, KILL, KILL.” This just makes him more likely to be enlisted. The twist of the thing comes when it’s a littering offense, not his supposed sadistic tendencies, that keep him out of the military—a sign of screwed-up governmental priorities.’

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