It’s that time of year. The holidays are just around the corner and for some stalwarts, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without listening to the Arlo Guthrie classic “Alice’s Restaurant” on the radio.
50th Anniversary of the Events that Inspired the Song
This year is particularly special as it marks the 50th anniversary of the 1965 events that prompted the song and in honor of that, Guthrie has been on the road performing as part of a 50th anniversary tour. He’s even playing this week (including tonight, Tuesday, November 23, 2015) at the location that inspired the song (now the Guthrie Center).
In an interview with USA Today, Guthrie talks about the Thanksgiving tradition:
QUESTION: Congratulations on the 50th anniversary of Alice’s Restaurant. I know you didn’t set out to be Thanksgiving’s answer to Johnny Mathis, but how does it feel to have the world’s only known Thanksgiving carol?
ANSWER: I still think it’s pretty funny the way things turned out. I never in my wildest imagination thought one of my songs would be in any way associated with a holiday.
In addition to all of the radio play that “Alice’s Restaurant” will get this Thanksgiving, it will also be broadcast on PBS television stations as part of the “Alice’s Restaurant 50th Anniversary Concert with Arlo Guthrie,” airing on some stations on Thanksgiving night from 8 to 9:30pm (check your local listings. In San Francisco, the special airs over the Thanksgiving weekend).
The back story of the song is fascinating and it’s hard for many to imagine how it ended up becoming a Thanksgiving tradition. The Boston Globe nicely describes the events leading up to the song’s birth:
It was 50 years ago, Thanksgiving in 1965, when an 18-year-old rising folk singer named Arlo Davy Guthrie drove up from Queens, N.Y., to Great Barrington to visit a friend named Alice Brock. While he was there, he did Alice and her husband, Ray, a favor. He took out their garbage. It would change his life. Guthrie and his buddy threw the garbage down a ditch where others often did the same thing. But the next day, Guthrie was arrested for littering, and that blip is what kept him from being drafted into the Vietnam War because he had an arrest record. It also became the narrative for a little ditty he wrote two years later that he called ‘Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.’ Part song, part storytelling, it became Guthrie’s signature…”
The 18-minute, Thanksgiving-themed epic has become a staple on many rock music stations over the years and fans of the traditional listening party scour the web to find out which of their local stations participate in any given year. Every year I try to provide a list of some of the stations planning to play “Alice’s Restaurant”, but it’s nearly impossible to create a complete tally, especially since most stations announce plans to play the song at the last minute. When in doubt, check with the local station in your area to see if they plan to play it.
Pre-Thanksgiving Radio Play
Some stations are already playing “Alice’s Restaurant” in advance of Thanksgiving. WWOZ 90.7 FM in New Orleans will be airing it on the Kitchen Sink show tonight (Tuesday, November 24, 2015) at 10pm Central Standard Time. On Wednesday, November 25, KFJC 89.7 FM in Los Altos Hills, CA will be playing it on “Lubbock or Leave It” between 10am and 2pm and WCBE 90.5 FM (Columbus, OH) will be playing it at 2:30pm.
As you know, you can listen to “Alice’s Restaurant” any time you like if you own the record or if you access it online, but for those terrestrial radio die hards, here are some places when you can tune in this year:
Alice’s Restaurant on the Radio on Thanksgiving Day 2015 – Thursday, November 26th
WTTS-FM 92.3 FM (Indianapolis/Bloomington, IN): “Over Easy Thanksgiving” on WTTS. Playing “Alice’s Restaurant” at 6AM, Noon and 6PM on Thanksgiving.
Q104.3 (New York City): will play at noon on Thanksgiving.
KSUT Public Radio (Ignacio, CO as well as other locals in the four corners area of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah): Playing “Alice’s Restaurant” at 9am on Thanksgiving, as well as some additional Thanksgiving-themed programming. Signals include: 90.1 FM – Durango & La Plata County, 89.3 FM – Central Durango, 88.1 FM – Farmington & northwest New Mexico, 88.1 FM – Pagosa Springs, 100.1 FM – Cortez, Mancos & Montezuma County, 91.9 FM – Dolores, 91.1 FM – Silverton.
99.7 The Fox (Charlotte, NC): Is playing “Alice’s Restaurant” at noon on Thanksgiving.
97.1 FM the River (Atlanta, GA): Is playing the song at 9am and noon on Thanksgiving.
96.9 The Eagle (Sacramento, CA): Will be playing “Alice’s Restaurant” on Thanksgiving. Not sure of exact time.
105.9 FM The Rebel (Syracuse, NY): Will play it at 10am on Thanksgiving.
WWDC 101. FM aka DC101 (Washington D.C. area): Will play “Alice’s Restaurant” at 7am on Thanksgiving.
The Whip Radio: 6am, noon and 6pm on Thanksgiving on the Backland Radio show.
106.3 KLOO-FM (Albany, OR): Will play at noon and 6pm on Thanksgiving.
The Point FM (104.7 FM in Burlington, VT, plus several other frequencies in the area): 9am, noon, and 6pm on Thanksgiving. Signals include: 104.7 FM Burlington/Plattsburgh/Montpelier/Champlain Valley/Central VT/Northern NY, 93.3 FM Burlington, 100.3 FM Montpelier, 95.7 FM St. Johnsbury/Littleton/The Northeast Kingdom, 93.7 FM Middlebury/Southern Champlain Valley/Ticonderoga, 103.1 FM White River Jct/Woodstock/Lebanon/Hanover/The Upper Valley, and 107.7 FM Lebanon/Hanover.
WZBT 91.1 FM (Gettysburg, PA): Will play at 9am, noon, and 6pm EST on Thanksgiving.
ARTxFM/WXOX (Louisville, KY): Playing “Alice’s Restaurant” on Thanksgiving between 10 and 11am.
WGXC 90.7 FM Wave Farm (Acra and Hudson, NY): Will play at 3pm on Thursday, November 26.
MVY Radio (88.7 FM Martha’s Vineyard, MA, 96.5 FM Newport, Rhode Island): Will play at noon EST on Thanksgiving.
Channel One Radio (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada): The Canadian station will play “Alice’s Restaurant” at 12 noon Mountain Time on Thursday, November 26.
Sirius XM The Village Folk Show (Channel 741). Will air “Alice’s Restaurant” at 8:35am EST on Thursday, November 26. At 12noon, Arlo Guthrie’s daughters will be on channel 741 as guest DJs, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the events that led to the creation of the song “Alice’s Restaurant.”
WPVM 103.7 FM (Asheville, NC): Will play “Alice’s Restaurant” at 12noon on Thanksgiving.
WDCV 88.3 FM (Carlisle, PA): Is playing Alice’s Restaurant on the top of most every even hour on Thanksgiving starting at 2am (including 2am, 4am, 10am, noon, 2pm, 4pm, 6pm, 8pm, 10pm).
WTHS 89.9 FM (Holland, MI ): Will play at 10am on Thanksgiving morning.
There are many other stations that typically play “Alice’s Restaurant,” but I’ve only included the ones that have been confirmed for 2015. If you know of more stations planning to air the song this year, please add them in the comments. Also, take a look at my “Alice’s Restaurant” posts from 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2010 to see some of the stations that have played it in the past and to learn more about the tradition.