All the “Alice’s Restaurant” You Can Eat

As Thanksgiving traditions go, the song and movie “Alice’s Restaurant” is a fairly common one among certain folks, especially the aging counterculture generation the original work by Arlo Guthrie was aimed at. There are different versions and performances out there, I’ve collected several of them below. Any other favorite renditions, please link to them in the comments.

The original song from the album of the same name:


The movie, which came out a couple years later:

An early live recording:

A more recent live version in front of a huge crowd:

An unusual but nifty ‘illustrated’ version:

And if you want to learn to play it yourself, there’s this:


Happy Thanksgiving!

The 25 Best Southeastern College Rock Songs From the 1980s


So a few weeks back a fellow South Carolina freelancer and I were debating one of those online lists, this one featured the top 100 indie rock songs of the 80’s and we were incensed that it only included one or maybe two songs from the southeast–which was a hotbed of great music in that era. I determined that needed fixing, so here’s my very personal list of the best 25 college radio tunes from the southeast in the 1980s. Feel free to argue with me about the choices in the comments, or add your own.

25. Lava Love, Juke Jubilee: Atlanta beach blanket bubblegum popsters with an irrepressible, helium-driven lead singer.

24. Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, Catch the Wind: Not their best known or most rocking song (that would be the 90’s southern anthem “Straight to Hell” and 1986’s “Scarred But Smarter”, respectively) but one of Kevn Kinney’s first great acoustic/quieter songs.

23. Bachelors of Art, Cut the Ropes: Regionally popular Columbia, SC act that followed the goth-pop trends of the day and did it better than most of the major acts. This version is from a reunion gig a few years ago, where they still sounded great.

22. Flat Duo Jets, Wild Wild Lover: Can’t talk about the southeast in the 80’s without mentioning the crazed rockabilly of Dexter Romweber; they even got to play this one on Letterman.

21. Dreams So Real, Bearing Witness: Criticized (not unfairly, to be honest) at the time for being an R.E.M. ripoff, they still had some pretty good songs like this one.

20. Guadalcanal Diary, Under the Yoke: Atlanta act that never quite broke through despite several major label albums, this is from the excellent 2×4 album.

19. Swimming Pool Q’s, The Bells Ring: Majestic, sweeping power pop and jagged art-rock combined in the best songs from this Atlanta band.


18. Chris Stamey, Cara Lee: Half of the songwriting partnership of the original dB’s, this comes from Stamey’s first solo album after leaving the band.


17. Jason and the Scorchers, Broken Whiskey Glass: Best live band in the south, maybe in the country, back then…one of many great songs of theirs.


16. Government Cheese, C’mon Back to Bowling Green: Tommy Womack’s original band.


15. Dash Rip Rock, Endeavor: Their reputation as a great bar band is well deserved, but this is a simple, melodic, great tune.

14. Southern Culture on the Skids, Eight Piece Box: Redneck rockabilly stereotypes abound in this NC band’s songs, but nobody was more fun to see live.


13. Fetchin’ Bones, Stray: Hope Nichols was a rock star way before Gwen Stefani, and a much better one.


12, Marti Jones, If I Could Love Somebody: One of the best song interpreters in the 80’s, Jones parlayed her association with members of the dB’s, husband Don Dixon, and more into a string of great albums. This one’s a John Hiatt song.


11. Let’s Active, Every Word Means No: Mitch Easter has had more influence as a producer than an artist, but this band might balance the two sides out, almost.

10. The Windbreakers, I’ll Be Back: Deep south power pop from the team of Tim Lee (who wrote this one) and Bobby Sutliff.


9. The Producers, What’s He Got: Atlanta pop/party band, this was a minor hit on Top 40 radio at the time.


8. Will and the Bushmen, 500 Miles: Will Kimbrough is better known now for his tenure with Todd Snider and his own solo singer-songwriter albums, but this was his first band and still one of my favorite songs from him.


7. The Primitons, Don’t Go Away: Alabama had a good scene in the 80’s with Carnival Season, The Storm Orphans, and this band topping the list of acts from the region.


6. dB’s, She Got Soul: Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey were the American Lennon and McCartney, at least for a few albums. This track is from the first LP without Stamey, which makes it even more impressive that they continued to write and release great material. (Edited per correction in comments–KO)


5. Don Dixon, Praying Mantis: Just a fun, crazy song–and the video is a hoot. Speaking of hoots, Hootie and the Blowfish covered this song regularly from their earliest days.


4. The Connells, Scotty’s Lament: Most underrated southeastern band of the 80’s? maybe because they were such a  popular act with the frat crowds it scared off the hipper kids, but the Connells had a bunch of great songs including this one.


3. The Reivers, In Your Eyes: Going from Zeitgeist to The Reivers for their major label debut, the songs stayed transcendent, soaring masterpieces.


2. Tommy Keene, Places That Are Gone: Is there a more perfect power pop tune? I don’t think so.

1. R.E.M., So. Central Rain: The band that everyone in the southeast wanted to be, or the one that inspired them to say ‘hey I want to do that’; this was their best early song.

Complex Sounds on Nym’s “Convex”


From Loci Records and the production touch of Emancipator (Doug Appling) comes this insidious set of downtempo trip-hop tunes from San Francisco artist and producer Nym that will seep into your subconscious like water dripping in a cave. More mood music than foreground entertainment, call it Millenial Muzak, perhaps, or a half-asleep version of Rudimental . Nym enlists Spherelet on the most immediate-sounding track, “Wavey Blue”, which weaves an ethereal vocal into the mix. Smooth, silken sounds with beats and samples that barely register sometimes, this is an understated, elegant offering.

Blast From SC Music Past: Micah Gilbert and Glass Bead Game


Stumbled across new music this morning from a South Carolina expatriate, Micah Gilbert, that triggered memories of his early Columbia, SC band Glass Bead Game. A vaguely psychedelic, baroque pop ensemble, they were the most exotic sound these young ears had heard at that point in my life as a freshman at the University of South Carolina. Though they had been a popular act at places such as The Beat and the G.R.O.W. Cafe in the early 80’s, by 1985 the band was pretty much done, and I would only get to hear them a couple of times at outdoor events. Their music was on tape at the university radio station, WUSC, however; “Krishnamurti’s House” especially got some significant airplay from yours truly over the next few years. There was a cassette-only release of their songs, I have been told, but it may have only been a demo and not an ‘official’ release.

Gilbert moved to Athens, Georgia and started a new band, Magister Ludi, that continued in the Glass Bead Game mold with some different players. In the early 90’s he recorded and released a solo album that was gentler, yet still regal-sounding pop not unlike Robyn Hitchcock, another underappreciated oddball songwriting genius. He currently lives in the United Kingdom and has become more active as a songwriter and performer over the past year or so, it appears.

I’m not expanding on much of this here because Gilbert does it better on his current website Secret Deer, where he details the history I’ve sketched above, lists all the various people he’s played music with including John Keane, Jane Scarpantoni, Robert Kirkland, and others, and most importantly where you can access new music from him via his bandcamp page.

The new songs are more basic in their sonic nature without the soaring, complex sonics of his early work, but many have full band arrangements and other players involved. His Beatles/John Lennon influence, which has lurked just under the surface of his previous work, seems more fully realized on the new material. Gilbert’s words have always been a mixture of the mundane and the metaphysical, leaving one scratching one’s head even as it bobs in time to the tune.

It is wonderful, and a little strange, to be listening to Gilbert’s voice again after so many years, but some things are not easily forgotten–like the chorus to “Krishnamurti’s House” that’s been stuck in my head for 30 years. You can hear an ‘updated’ version of that song on his bandcamp page, and while it’s not the raw missive from the otherworldly pop universe that plays in the eternal jukebox of my mind, the chorus is still a stick-in-the-head moment all these years later.

Even though he never really left, it’s nice to have Gilbert back at least in my own sphere of musical awareness.

Here’s a new song Gilbert posted just last week:

And here is the “Krishnamurti’s House” recording with original Glass Bead Game member Chelsea Snelgrove:


And this song, posted in September, may be my new favorite Gilbert composition:

And in case you missed the embedded link to his website above, click here.