Skip to main content
First Person

The Experience Questionnaire: Arlo Guthrie

Arlo Guthrie is a singer and songwriter.

Where do you come up with your best ideas?
The best ideas for songs or things like that seem to show up unexpectedly at odd times, like sitting in an airplane. 

What is the best non-material gift you’ve received?
Probably the friendships I’ve encountered along the way.

What is the best non-material gift you’ve given?
My friendship — I would hope. 

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
Well that seems to change all the time. At 13 I had different kinds of challenges than I do at 70-plus. But, I’d say the hardest thing I ever had to do was to figure out how to be me personally, as well as professionally. I’m not sure if I came up with the idea, so I usually attribute it to my father — “It is better to fail at being yourself than to succeed at being someone else.” That can be challenging…

If you had to choose a different profession, what would you be?
Maybe a bartender…

What is the most useful mistake you’ve made?
Trying to live up to other people’s expectations.

What opportunity do you regret passing up?
The opportunity to be more generous at times, which I probably passed up more in my youth. I’ve had to learn to become the person I am today.

How do you relax?
I’m usually pretty relaxed as it is. 

If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
Home.

What is your most indelible childhood memory?
Standing in the window of our apartment when I was 5 years old (or so), watching a storm outside.

Describe a perfect day.
Average days are so unusual, I’d love to find myself in an average day.

When you’re stuck how do you get unstuck?
I take the cue from Bruce Lee in the movie Enter The Dragon: Just sit down and wait.

What is your proudest moment?
I don’t know.

What would you like to experience before you die?
Death.

For more, visit our Experience Questionnaire archive page.

Published on

Photograph by mpi04/MediaPunch/IPX via Associated Press

I Tried It

I Tried It: Sensory deprivation tank

Experiencing nothing is bliss.

By Allen Strickland Williams

Stories in First Person

That’s not my name

By Schuyler Velasco