Amid Coronavirus Shutdowns, You Can’t Get Anything You Want at Alice’s Restaurant

Arlo Guthrie updates ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ lyrics to incorporate global pandemic

STOCKBRIDGE, MA — Fifty-three years after the debut of Alice’s Restaurant Massacree, Arlo Guthrie released an updated version of the hit song. “I felt it was careless of me to perpetrate the false idea that Alice irresponsibly kept her restaurant open for full dine-in service in the middle of a global pandemic, which requires all of us to stay at home and out of public spaces,” Guthrie explained to reporters while strumming his guitar.

But the singer assured fans of the 1967 release that they have little cause to worry, as many core elements of the 18-minute song were left unchanged. The subject of the song remains Alice, and the restaurant (but “Alice’s Restaurant” is not the name of the restaurant — that’s the name of the song; that’s why Guthrie calls the song Alice’s Restaurant). The ballad’s distinct anti-military, anti-law enforcement, and pro-civil disobedience themes were left untouched as well, because “all cops are bastards — I’m lookin’ at you, Officer Obie — and I support the Black lives matter protests,” Guthrie emphasized.

The coronavirus rewrite focused mainly on the song’s refrain:

You can get anything you want (from a limited takeout menu) at Alice’s restaurant
You can get anything you want (from a limited takeout menu) at Alice’s restaurant
Don’t walk right in, they’ll bring your food out from the back
Just keep your distance and wear a mask
You can get anything you want (from a limited takeout menu) at Alice’s restaurant

Also different in the 2020 recording: the updated version is not performed in front of a live, in-person audience. Instead, Guthrie opted to record the song over a Zoom call with friends and family. When asked why Alice (of Her Restaurant fame) was notably absent from the digital audience, the singer explained that she was busy preparing dozens of takeout orders at the time of his performance.

“Alice’s absence is one way the song stayed the same all these years later,” Guthrie laughed. “You can get anything you want (from a limited takeout menu) at Alice’s restaurant — except Alice!”

writer, shitposter, & comic creator. never not tired. would happily break my vegetarianism to eat the rich. more at alicelahoda.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store