Arlo Guthrie still plays his own tune
by Nancy Dunham, washingtonexaminer.com
March 3rd 2011 8:05 PM Arlo Guthrie is still a renegade more than 40 years after his music debuted.
Although Guthrie is a registered Republican, he's not afraid to voice opinions in opposition to the party line. Perhaps what sets Guthrie apart is that he still creates music just for the joy of it, unlike some other socially conscious artists that use music only as a political platform.
Onstage Arlo Guthrie » When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday » Where: The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria » Details: $55; sold out at press time; tickets may be available from online retailers; 202-397-SEAT; ticketmaster.com
"When you really enjoy it, the music is better," said Guthrie of his love for performing. "People in the audience can tell the difference between those who enjoy performing and [something akin to] a trained seal routine."
That was certainly the case when Guthrie and his family rode on a float as part of the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The family was continually cheered by fans as they waved and listened to the sound system play "Alice's Restaurant." After all of these decades of playing music, Guthrie has never lost sight of staying in touch with kindred musical spirits.
Want proof that Guthrie was never one who shot for the Top 40? The first album he released in the 1960s on Warner Brothers Records was one of old cowboy songs he enjoyed. Although the album had no marketing budget, word of mouth led fans to find and buy the music.
"I was out in Wyoming, setting up in a little bar and an old rancher came walking in," said Guthrie recalling the days after that first album was released. "I heard him say, 'Where's Guthrie?' and wondered why he was looking for me. When he came over, he said, 'I just want to thank you for that record. Nobody records those songs anymore.' "
When Guthrie offered him tickets to his upcoming concert, the man politely declined, saying that he didn't attend concerts, but wanted to offer his gratitude.
"It goes to show you don't need an industry, power lunches and all those things," Guthrie said. "You need to get your music to the people that love it. Those are the records we've always made, specifically since 1983, and that's what we'll keep making."
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