Everyone has their own traditions during the holiday season. On Thanksgiving Day, many Americans wake up early and begin the day watching The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; while the turkey cooks and friends and relatives arrive at the house. Many finish up the day napping on the couch or in an easy chair while football games are shown on television. Others break out the Christmas DVDs and begin the decoration process in preparation for Christmas. A recent tradition spurred on by the Internet and Social Media is to watch the classic episode of “Turkeys Away” from the 1970s television series, WKRP in Cincinnati.
Back in the “olden days” there was a secret tradition closely held by radio disc jockeys across the nation. In those days, ancient songs were played on antique items called “records” These were vinyl discs that songs were recorded by etching the sound waves into the plastic. A phonograph player or “turntable” decoded these sound waves into music that played through machines and broadcasted on the airwaves by radio stations.
It was a complicated process because most songs were only about 4-minutes long and another record had to be cued up on a separate machine that the disc jockey would have to start as the previous song was ending. These radio announcers had very little time between songs to do little else. Except on Thanksgiving Day.
Naturally on that day, a hardworking DJ might want to eat a little traditional turkey and reflect on his gratitude for his abundance. How was a DJ suppose to carry out that in 4 minutes? Enter songwriter/singer/ anti-war activist Arlo Guthrie and his album, Alice’s Restaurant.
Arlo saved many a DJ’s Thanksgiving and through the years; before digital music on computers and automatic playlists, he provided DJs a chance to run to the bathroom, have a cigarette, or eat some lunch at a leisurely pace of 18 minutes and 34 seconds. The album, recorded in 1967, also had the added bonus of promoting an absurd anti-war “movement” called the “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”.
As a former communications major and student disc jockey , I never let a Thanksgiving Day pass by without listening to Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”.
I hope you and your family had a great and Happy Thanksgiving Day filled with all of your own happy traditions, and I hope you got “anything you want”, even if it wasn’t from, Alice’s Restaurant”
Here’s to you and yours and a “movement so absurd, it just might work”