The story of Alice’s Restaurant (with the full orchestration and five-part harmony) is a story in two parts. The first part details a Thanksgiving where Arlo and his friend attempted to get rid of a half a ton of garbage and got arrested for littering; the second part is about how Arlo was not drafted to go to Vietnam. The story is about 2600 words, and takes about eighteen and a half minutes to listen to, one of the longest songs outside of a symphony that you’ll probably hear.
It’s also absolutely fantastic.
And this is for multiple reasons– it’s a mix of comedy, satire, and Vietnam protest song that I’d describe as “if the Pythons wrote 1984” if Terry Gilliam’s Brazil didn’t already exist. But you can also learn a lot about how a story is told from this. There are people who have this monologue completely memorized, and there’s a reason for that. It’s catchy. Some of that is in the story, and some of that is in the telling, but that’s not what I came to tell you about.
Came to talk about the draft.
(I’m kidding, we’re talking about “Alice’s Restaurant”.)