How did I come to know Arlo Guthrie, you might ask. It’s a very long story, going back through several lifetimes. Here’s the short version: I always enjoyed his music, but as the years went by after the 60′s ended I kind of forgot about him. My life had hit some pretty big bunps, and I wasn’t feeling too good about anything. One day I read in the paper that Arlo Guthrie was performing at Rockefella’s, and I decided I should go. After all, I figured most of the hippies were long gone and he might not have much of an audience. My friend and I showed up and found it was SRO. We got seats just above the stage, and for the next 2 hours I was transported back in time through those old songs, back to when I was young and happy … when he walked off the stage he looked up, directly into my eyes, and I had the thought that he was gonna be important in my life. Then I had the thought that the other thought was nuts. He was a legend, how could I ever expect to even meet him?
Weeks went by. I started reading about him, and his father Woody, and gained enormous respect for both of them. Woody’s early life was not too different than my own father’s, lots of hardship and tragedy. Arlo’s great-great grandfather, Shadrack Guthrie, lived in Bell County, Texas, at the same time as my Great-Great Grandpa Elisha Erwin Stewart. Small world. I’d signed up for Arlo’s newsletter, The Rolling Blunder Review. One day I got an issue that asked for volunteers to accompany him on a trip to Europe in August, 1989. He wanted to avoid the commercialism of the 20th anniversary of Woodstock, and thought some of us might want to tag along. I thought it was a joke … but what if it wasn’t? It didn’t cost much – but I was pretty low on funds. I threw the paper away. Next day it was back on my desk. Same Day, I got a “pre-approved” credit card application with just the amount of credit I needed to pay for the trip. Who was I to argue with Fate? I signed up. So did 38 other Blunderites. The rest is history.
I’d worried a little that he might not turn out to be the great guy I thought he was. I didn’t need to worry. As soon as I laid eyes on him in the Frankfurt airport, I knew he was everything I’d hoped he’d be, and more … so much more.
It was a life-changing trip. I met some wonderful folks, most of them still friends to this day. Judy B. was one of them. Here’s Judy, Arlo & me at the Guthrie Center, aka Alice’s church in Great Barrington, Mass. Arlo bought in a few years back and now does concerts there. There are community outreach programs, lectures, and other fun stuff there too.