In long posts on Arlo Guthrie’s Facebook page and website, the 73-year-old folksinger declared Friday he is retiring from performance right away. He’s canceled various shows he had planned around the nation for the next year and said he won’t book any longer.
“It’s been a great 50-plus years of being a working entertainer, but I reached the difficult decision that touring and stage shows are no longer possible,” he said in the statement titled “Gone Fishing.”
Guthrie didn’t react to email and phone messages requesting to expand however showed in his explanation that health problems played a significant role. He said he’d endured two strokes in recent years, including a genuine one that hospitalized him for a few days a year ago.
The son of society music legend Woody Guthrie rose to overnight popularity in 1967 with the arrival of “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” a hilarious 18-minute talking blues ballad about how his Thanksgiving Day 1965 arrest for littering kept him out of the Army during the Vietnam War.
As he finger-picked a maddeningly memorable tune again and again on his acoustic guitar, Guthrie related how he’d ridiculed the local police chief who arrested him, showed up under the steady gaze of a visually impaired judge who couldn’t see the photographs submitted as proof against him and berated his draft board for closing he “wasn’t moral enough to join the Army and burn women and kids’ houses and villages after being a litterbug.”
He’s proceeded to record in excess of 30 albums, compose a few children’s books and periodically show up in TV shows and movies, remembering playing himself for the 1969 film “Alice’s Restaurant.”
“A folk singer’s shelf life may be a lot longer than a dancer or an athlete, but at some point, unless you’re incredibly fortunate or just plain whacko (either one or both) it’s time to hang up the ‘Gone Fishing’ sign,” he said Friday.
Guthrie, who often declined to play “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” for crowds throughout the long term, had intended to perform it at the following year’s shows. He had played it at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 2019 at what he’d recently reported would be the remainder of his 50 Thanksgiving weekend shows at that venerated music hall.
Be that as it may, the day preceding, incidentally on Thanksgiving, he suffered the second and more serious of his strokes. After two days he was in the hospital and later went through a few days of physical recovery.
By the next year, he was in a good place again and back on tour when the Covid pandemic struck. He assessed Friday he’d recuperated around 80% of his health by at that point, however following a long time of inaction from the street, he concluded the time had come to stop.
In July he released a new song, Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times Come Again No More,” and showed Friday that his retiring from the stage doesn’t mean he’ll disappear totally.
“In fact, I hope to be a thorn in the side of a new administration pretty soon,” he said in a veiled reference to President Donald Trump.