Everything Arlo Guthrie
Expectations were high for this teenage musician growing up in Greenwich Village, New York during the 1960s. After all, Arlo Guthrie was the son of American folk legend Woody Guthrie and had grown up surrounded by other folk heroes such as Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, Fred Hellerman and Lee Hays (The Weavers), Leadbelly, Cisco Houston, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee. But the young singer/songwriter would soon exceed all expectations, becoming the leader of Ameirca's next generation of folk musicians and an outspoken social and political activist.
It was 1967's classic anti-war ballad, Alice's Restaurant and the 1969 movie of the same name that launched Arlo's career. Like his father, Arlo was able to expertly craft a catchy tune, a great story and progressive politics into a memorable ballad. However, Guthrie never experienced true commercial success. Alice's Restaurant was too long (18.5 minutes) for radio play and the 1969 Woodstock favorite, Coming into Los Angeles was banned from the radio. However, his rendition of City of New Orleans alone would have earned him a permanent place in the annals of American folk music. Guthrie's Rising Son Records continues to release an extensive portion of Arlo's back catalogue as well as music by his children Sarah Lee Guthrie and son Abe's band, Xavier.
The end of the Vietnam War did not cool Guthrie's activism. He is an outspoken environmental and social activist. In 1991 he founded the Guthrie Center, an interfaith church in the Alice Brock's former home, the Trinity Church. This is indeed the same church in the song Alice's Restaurant. Today, the Guthrie Center is active in promoting interfaith dialogue, supproting the local communtiy, and houses the Guthrie Foundation, an acclaimed educational outreach organization.
A notable recent recording, Righteous Babe Records' Till We Outnumber 'Em brings together three generations of folk artists in a tribute to Woody Guthrie. The 1996 live recording of a concert at Severance Hall in Cleveland Ohio features Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Bruce Springsteen, Ani DiFranco, Pete Seeger, the Indigo Girls, and of course, Arlo Guthrie.
Of course Arlo has also contirbuted to numerous other compilation and tribute CDs.
Like his father, Arlo remains humble about his contributions not just to music but American history in general. However, he does say, "its not everyone who can get rich writin'a song about a pickle, but hey, that's America."