ARLO GUTHRIE – One Night – (Warner Brothers) – 1978


If you need proof that Arlo was something beyond the son of Woody or the disciple of Bob Dylan then listen to this album.

The album isn’t totally successful ,but, Arlo’s scope and vision clearly place him at the forefront of the folky singer songwriters.

In commenting on another of Arlo’s albums on this blog, I said

Whatever the philosophy it sounds a lot like Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan (circa Dylan’s “Desire”, also from 1976 – I don’t know which came out first). But like I’ve said before when talking about Arlo: Bob was emulating Arlo’s dad, Woody. So, Arlo probably isn’t aping Bob but just applying genetics, at least vocally. Though, it is also fair to say, that Dylan’s influence cannot be underestimated.

Even with the twin influences of Woody and Bob, Arlo is a slave to neither and has his own voice and sensibilities. The same cannot be said for a multitude of others influenced by Dylan or Guthrie.

On another comment I had said:

Arlo loves folk, western folk, country folk, traditional folk, country folk, Americana and political protest songs. His love of regional music and his taste is partly what makes his albums so endearing.

On this album, which is a live album, Arlo dips into his usual material but then also throws in a Elvis Presley and a Beatles song  which manage to fit in perfectly ( The Beatles song is more successful).

Arlo is in largely a playful mood and I get the feeling that the set was meant to revolve around 17 minute spoken satire " The Story of Reuben Clamzo & His Strange Daughter in the Key of A". The "Story of Reuben" is of it’s time and place but the music around it transcends this and gives you a snapshot of the width and depth of American music (and Arlo’s knowledge of the same).

Part of the success of the album lies in his backing band, Shenandoah, who are adept musicians and equally playful and with a acute knowledge of the songs in their historical contexts.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • One Night – (Dave Bartholomew / Pearl King / Anita Steiman) – wow, a credible version of the Elvis song ( #4 1958) which isn’t as sexy or smouldering as Elvis’ version but does have the right bounce (and grind) about a night of sex. Smiley Lewis did the original of the song but Arlo sings the Elvis version here which has different (cleaned up) lyrics. (as an aside Elvis did the song with the original risqué lyrics bu that wasn’t released until 1983 – It was Elvis himself who rewrote "One night of sin is what I’m now paying for" into "One night with you is what I’m now praying for.").
  • I’ve Just Seen a Face – (John Lennon / Paul McCartney) – double wow – the Beatles done bluegrass. This is not the first time this has been done but it is a joy to hear and just goes to show how the Beatles pop was easily adapted to any number of styles – isn’t that what pop is all about?
  • Tennessee Stud – (Jimmie Driftwood) – a good version of Driftwood’s country folk song though Eddy Arnold had a straight country hit with it in the late 1950s (#5 Country 1959)
  • Anytime – (Herbert "Happy" Lawson) – The original dates back to 1921 and has been covered by everyone … . Arlo does a ragtime version of the song (which is probably how it was written). He did a studio version on his "Hobo’s Lullaby" album from 1972.
  • Little Beggarman – (Traditional) –  a folk traditional and done fairly straight though with electrical and western (drums) asides. Nice.
  • Buffalo Skinners – (Traditional) – a traditional  western folk song with more than a hint of Bob Dylan (Dylan did a "unreleased" version during the basement Tapes Sessions in 1967)
  • St. Louis Tickle – (Traditional)- a ragtime type tune done by blues folkie Dave Van Ronk and many others before him
  • The Story of Reuben Clamzo & His Strange Daughter in the Key of A – (Arlo Guthrie)-wtf. This Arlo monologue satire much like his "Alice’s Restaurant". The song is about (apparently) the Clamshell Alliance, a group opposed to nuclear power plant in the US. This song is humorous and has the "Clamshell alliance" as an organization of US citizens fighting off invasions of gigantic walking clams in Colonial America. His delivery is strangely like Richard Pryor. Very much of time and place.
  • Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream – (Ed McCurdy ) – OK the US wasn’t involved in an "official" wars in 1978 but …. a fitting end. McCurdy’s antiwar classic has been covered many times …..wikipedia: " His widely-covered anti-war classic, "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream," has been recorded in seventy-six languages (it was recently covered by Johnny Cash in 2002, Garth Brooks in 2005, and Serena Ryder in 2006). In November 1989, as Tom Brokaw stood on top of the Berlin Wall he directed his NBC-TV cameras towards the school children on the East German side of the Berlin Wall, to show the children singing "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream" en masse as the wall was being dismantled".

And …

Not perfect but certainly above average and a very entertaining live album… I’m keeping it.
Chart Action
nothing no where
One Night
song attached here

Arlo Guthrie – One Night

I’ve Just Seen a Face

studio version

Little Beggarman

Buffalo Skinners

The Story of Reuben Clamzo & His Strange Daughter in the Key of A

Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream 





About Franko

Hi, I'm just a person with a love of music, a lot of records and some spare time. My opinions are comments not reviews and are mine so don't be offended if I have slighted your favourite artist. I have listened to a lot of music and I don't pretend to be impartial. You can contact me on though I would rather you left a comment. I also sell music at Cheers
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