According to Wikipedia,”Alice’s Restaurant was first performed publicly with Guthrie singing live on Radio Unnameable, the overnight program hosted by Bob Fass that aired on New York radio station WBAI, one evening in 1966. Guthrie performed the song several times live on WBAI in 1966 and 1967, prior to the song’s commercial release. The song proved so popular that at one point Fass (who was known for playing songs he liked over and over again in his graveyard slot) started playing a recording of one of Guthrie’s live performances of the song repeatedly; eventually the non-commercial station rebroadcast it only when listeners pledged to donate a large amount of money.
“Alice’s Restaurant was performed on July 17, 1967, at the Newport Folk Festival in a workshop or break-out section on ‘topical songs,’ where it was such a hit that he was called upon to perform it for the entire festival audience. The song’s success at Newport and on WBAI led Guthrie to record it in front of a studio audience in New York City and release it as side one of the album, Alice’s Restaurant, which was released in October 1967.”
For me, it’s a Thanksgiving tradition. Enjoy.
Update, November 24, 2021—
The Library of Congress has posted a detailed background piece on this recording. If you like Arlo and this song, it’s a must read: HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Let’s visit “Alice’s Restaurant.”