Arlo Guthrie Woodstock

Arlo Guthrie Woodstock

Arlo Guthrie Woodstock

Arlo Guthrie Woodstock

It was around midnight when Arlo Guthrie came on. Just before, John Morris had announced that the festival was now free  because the organizers had realized that the welfare of everyone there was more important than money.

John Pilla (guitar), Bob Arkin (bass), and Paul Motian (drums) accompanied Arlo who played guitar.

He  played for approximately 40 minutes.

His setlist was:

  • Coming into Los Angeles
  • Wheel of Fortune
  • Walking Down the Line
  • Arlo Speech: Exodus
  • Oh Mary, Don’t You Weep
  • Every Hand in the Land
  • Amazing Grace
Arlo Guthrie Woodstock

Coming Into Los Angeles

Like his father, Arlo’s songs can be fun and they can be serious. In 1969 singing a song about drug smuggling was pushing the envelope but something Arlo was certainly up for.

Coming in from London
From over the pole
Flying in a big airliner
Chickens flying everywhere around the plane
Could we ever feel much finer?

Chorus:
Coming into Los Angeles
Bringing in a couple of keys
Don’t touch my bags if you please
Mister Customs Man

There’s a guy with a ticket to Mexico
No, he couldn’t look much stranger
Walking in the hall with his things and all
Smiling, said he was the Lone Ranger

Chorus

Hip woman walking on a moving floor
Tripping on the escalator
There’s a man in the line
And she’s blowing his mind
Thinking that he’s already made her

Chorus

Coming in from London
From over the pole
Flying in a big airliner
Chickens flying everywhere around the plane
Could we ever feel much finer?

Arlo has lots of comments between songs. After Coming Into Los Angeles he says, “Yea, it’s far out, man. I don’t know if you…I don’t know like how many of you can dig  how many people there are, man.  Like I was rapping to the fuzz [chuckles], alright, can you dig it? Man, there’s supposed to be a million and a half people here by tonight. Can you dig that? New York State Thruway is closed, man [he laughs, crowd applauds].  Yea. Lotta freaks!”

There’s a bit of a pause and just before starting the next song he says, “Far out. We got drunk! It’s alright. I guess it’s just as good as bein’ wet.”

Arlo Guthrie Woodstock

Wheel of Fortune

Arlo Guthrie Woodstock
Cover of Running Down the Road album (1969)

Arlo had already released three albums with most of the tunes written by himself. He did none of the songs from the first two albums. Wheel of Fortune came from his then most recent album, his third and the second studio album.

Rolling, wheeling like I’m feeling
Everything’s gonna carry on
You go your way, I’m going my way
We will come and so be gone

Wheel of fortune, turn for me now
Turn to trouble in the West
Wheels of completion rolling
Wait to put my mind to rest

CHORUS

Hey, Ezekiel, you can leave now
You got to go or stay so long
While your wheels just keep turning
Turn to rhythm right and wrong

CHORUS

Wheel of fortune, turn for me now
Turn to trouble in the West
Wheels of completion rolling
Wait to put my mind at rest

Arlo Guthrie Woodstock

Walking Down the Line

Arlo introduced the next song: I don’t know what it’s like to get ahh…shut up man…I don’t know what it’s like to get a lotta’ like you know…It’s far out all these people. I don’t know what it’s gonna’ be like to get everybody…ah…to sing a song with us. We’re gonna do a Bobby Dylan tune, man [applause]. And, ah, maybe you’ll do it with us, you know, maybe you won’t. That’s groovy.

He starts, but along the way, Arlo will stop and politely chastise the crowd about their lack of participation. That while they may not be walking down a line at the moment, but one day they might be. He then goes into a disjointed story about a California earthquake and walking down the line. He’s happier with their response.

Well, I’m walkin’ down the line,
I’m walkin’ down the line
An’ I’m walkin’ down the line.
My feet’ll be a-flyin’
To tell about my troubled mind.
I got a heavy-headed gal
I got a heavy-headed gal
I got a heavy-headed gal
She ain’t feelin’ well
When she’s better only time will tell
Well, I’m walkin’ down the line,
I’m walkin’ down the line
An’ I’m walkin’ down the line.
My feet’ll be a-flyin’
To tell about my troubled mind.
My money comes and goes
My money comes and goes
My money comes and goes
And rolls and flows and rolls and flows
Through the holes in the pockets in my clothes
Well, I’m walkin’ down the line,
I’m walkin’ down the line
An’ I’m walkin’ down the line.
My feet’ll be a-flyin’
To tell about my troubled mind.
I see the morning light
I see the morning light
Well it’s not because
I’m an early riser
I didn’t go to sleep last night
Well, I’m walkin’ down the line,
I’m walkin’ down the line
An’ I’m walkin’ down the line.
My feet’ll be a-flyin’
To tell about my troubled mind.
I got my walkin’ shoes
I got my walkin’ shoes
I got my walkin’ shoes
An’ I ain’t a-gonna lose
I believe I got the walkin’ blues
Well, I’m walkin’ down the line,
I’m walkin’ down the line
An’ I’m walkin’ down the line.
My feet’ll be a-flyin’
To tell about my troubled mind.

At the end of the song, Arlo comments on the sound, “Part of the problem is we can’t hear what we’re doin.'” He then tell those in the crowd calling out requests to “Cool it. We know what we’re gonna’ do…we ain’t that far out…not yet.”

Arlo Guthrie Woodstock

The Story of Moses

Perhaps many in the crowd were disappointed that Arlo did not do Alice’s Restaurant, his most famous song until and since then. Instead he tells the story about the world’s first tune.

The performance isn’t so much a song, as a story, just like the title says.  For 10 minutes he enthralls everyone. Of course the key to this Exodus story revolves around some seeds, some weeds, and brownies.

The story sort of ends, then continues into surfing a wave from the west coast to Illinois.

Arlo Guthrie Woodstock

Oh Mary, Don’t You Weep

It turns out that Arlo’s Exodus story was simply an into to the next song,  Arlo’s poetically-licensed cover of  Oh Mary, Don’t You Weep, a traditional song from the early 20th century. In 2015 The Swan Silvertones’s version of the song was inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry for the song’s “cultural, artistic and/or historical significance to American society and the nation’s audio legacy“.

Arlo apologizes beforehand saying he usually does the on the piano, but the piano is wet. Actually, not the piano, but the seat and he didn’t want to get his own seat wet. He says, “You get rich and you don’t want to get your ass wet.”

Arlo Guthrie Woodstock

Every Hand in the Land

The crowd enthusiastically calls for an encore and ror his first Arlo does one of his own compositions, Every Hand in the Land.

As with “Oh Mary…” Arlo talks awhile before starting the song. The crowd continues to call out requests which he laughingly ignores.  He then tells everyone that the organizers reminding him that he’s the only one of Woodstock’s performers who’s familiar with the garbage scene and asks the crowd to throw their garbage in the road where it can be picked up more easily.

He tells them it’s a song about hands, Everyone has two.

Every hand in the land
Shakes along with me
It don’t seem that I can dream
Like I used to dream
Maybe that somebody is shaking me
If I fell I could tell
It may be that somebody is making me
Dream that you’re forever
Gone away from me
Every toe that I know
Step away with me
I can’t seem to get where
I want to be
Maybe it’s my own foot
That keeps tripping me
Trip trap – flip flap
It must come to wherever from it comes
Through to me
I can’t walk to where
My own dreams talk to me
Every face in this place
Take your eyes away
Blink if you think that
There’s another way
Maybe it’s my own eyes
That don’t see the way
The time is blind
It may come to pass
That I will lose my mind
I can’t live without the love I left behind
I can’t live without the love I left behind

Arlo Guthrie Woodstock

Amazing Grace

Arlo closes his set with the traditional Amazing Grace. No intro. No improvisation. Just the song.

Arlo Guthrie Woodstock
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