For a singer-songwriter often associated with protest songs such as "Alice's Restaurant" and "Coming into Los Angeles," Arlo Guthrie comes across as anything but a protester over the phone.
"Actually, I'm a registered Republican," Guthrie says while speaking on his cell phone in a hotel room in upstate Ohio. "And I can see where there would be a lot of eyebrow-lifting when people hear that I am a Republican."
Being the son of famed folksinger and political activist Woody Guthrie, one might assume that Arlo would follow in his father's political footsteps. And according to Arlo, he is—just in a different way.
Arlo Guthrie performs Saturday, March 26, at the House of Blues.
"I have my own ideas of what the Republican Party should be doing," Guthrie says. "These are not the ideas that they are actually embracing, so I haven't been invited to any Republican clambakes as a result."
Guthrie endorsed Texas congressman Ron Paul for President in 2008 and still feels that both Republicans and Democrats are not pursuing the best course for the country.
"There needs to be a lot more common sense in Washington," Guthrie says. "And I like being a Republican so I can tell them what I think. They don't have to listen to me, by the way, and I don't expect them to."
When Guthrie began his musical career nearly 45 years ago, he also didn't expect to have his biggest hit right off the bat. But when "Alice's Restaurant" was released in 1967, it quickly brought attention to someone who wasn't looking for it.
"I really wanted to be a Forest Ranger," he says. "There was never any pressure on me to become a professional entertainer. It just kind of happened."
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Now, though, almost 30 albums later, Guthrie has written and recorded a whole batch of transcendent folk and rock songs. And many of these songs are associated with various political issues, whether they be drug legalization (the humorous "Coming in Los Angeles") or world affairs (the poignant "Victor Jara"), Guthrie has always managed to find the right words for a variety of situations.
"I feel very lucky that people have liked what I've done," he says. "I'm thrilled because I know that it means that music can be a really good friend. Music is a language. My three daughters all play music. And even the grandkids are playing music at this point."
He's quick to point out, though, that he never forced the family craft upon them.
"I didn't push my children to become musicians," Guthrie says. "But we've ended up having a lot of fun together."