Which Phish Songs Have Changed Over Time, And How?

This FAQ page is woefully out of date. We apologize for any inconvenience, and will be updating this page as soon as possible.

Phish's music has evolved in a number of ways over their history, including changes in titles, lyrics, performance, structure, and jams becoming songs.

Some songs have been renamed: Strange Design was originally "Companions", Mozambique was "Free Thought", At the Barbeque was "Blow Wind Blow", and at least four tunes introduced Fall 1997 were renamed in summer 1998, prior to the release of Ghost, including Moma Dance ("Black-Eyed Katy" before it had lyrics), Shafty (formerly "Oblivious Fool"), Roggae ("Roget"), and Frankie Says ("Relax"). Other songs were introduced under a different nameTweezer was first introduced (by Trey) as "Tweezer so Cold." And Paul and Silas (a cover) was for awhile listed and sung as "Hall in Solace." But most examples were larks, including Rift introduced by Fishman (on 2-25-90) as "Rift, Part I", Glide introduced by Trey (on 5-22-94) as "Whoomp! There it is!", and Fikus introduced as "Fikus, but we're toying with calling it 'I, Fikus'." But some titles changes have just been fan confusion: Timber (Jerry) is almost invariably called and labelled "Timber (Ho)," and NICU was often listed as "And I See You." Lastly, some titles have just been inconsistently spelled, especially Chalk Dust Torture (on Picture of Nectar) but Chalkdust Torture (on A Live One). 

Some songs involve common lyrics play, including Run Like an Antelope, Makisupa Policeman, Icculus, and Sanity. Others have experienced changes in lyrics: "Cavern" is notable for the having lost the "turn the blade back on the bitch" and "penile erector" lyrics (last heard 4/5/98 and ___, respectively). In "Tela", "from the multibeast on which she rides" was changed to "at the river by which she rides" sometime between 6/26/94 and 12/14/95. Early versions of "Esther" didn't end so sinisterly/abruptly. (Esther escaped from the water and the mob, though these lyrics sometimes recur, such as 11-26-97.) Entire verses have been dropped from early versions of songs "Runaway Jim" and "Alumni Blues". And lines in "Wilson" have been altered. And on some occasions, songs have used lyrics from another song: "BBFCFM" with "Scent of a Mule" 7-13-94; "Catapult" sung to the tune of "Simple" at 12-8-94; "Catapult" and "David Bowie" 4-17-92; "Wilson" and "Antelope" a few times (and don't forget the "Roll Like a Cantaloupes" from 7-12-883-11-90, and 11-4-91; or the Roll Like a Creaturelope from __.)

Some songs have been crafted from improvisational jams: Much of Wingsuit (see 10/31/13) is said to have been written from jams Mike identified in his journal. Earlier examples include "Tweezer" from the 12-31-89 soundcheck; "Simple" from the '94 Warfield jam;"Birds of a Feather" from the 12-3-97 set II jam preceding "Prince Caspian" and the 12-13-97 jam after "Piper"; "At the Barbeque" from the crazy Desenzano soundcheck (7/6/97) (where the wind was blowing like crazy, thus the original title, "Blow Wind Blow."), and "First Tube" from the 7/10/98 jam between Halley's and Roggae

  • Performance changes:
    • Speed: "Sanity" was initially much slower. "Poor Heart" has been performed both as a slow shuffle and as a speedy whirl.
    • Style: "My Sweet One" was performed acoustic 5-22-94.
    • Parts:
      • "Reba" doesn't always have the whistling.
      • The ending of Harry Hood was bagged on 10/7/95, 7/26/97 Austin, and on 7-09-98 when they ditched Hood for Isabella.
      • "Horse" used to be acoustic and always preceded "Silent in the Morning", but most Horses since Spring 1993 have been electric and the 5/30/93, 5-30-94, and 6/23/94 "Silent" had no "Horses"s. (Adam Shiffman pointed out 12/2/97 that the 6/23/94 Silent "finished" the Horse which ended the 6-21-94 first set, cut off by a fire alarm.)
      • Character Zero used to (10-21-96, 10-23-96 and 10-29-96 end that way, maybe 10-31-96) end with a vocal jam as it does on the album. (Todd Justus)
    • Rotation: Performances have also varied by rotating who's playing what instrument. For an early example, listen to "Lively up yourself" 4/21/92, with Jon on bass and Mike on guitar and Trey on drums. A full-band "instrument switch jam" (or "Rotation Jam") occurred on 11/25/95 Hampton, VA, with each member playing several other instruments; this happened again on 12/15/95 12/29/96, both in Philladelphia. (Daniel Pennington) Rocka William and Walfredo are designed for rotated playing, and rotation also happens during most HYHU's
    • Overlaps: Some songs have been combined, e.g. various teases appearing throughout 2-20-93; Antelope and BBFCFM being combined 3-13-92; Catapult in and out of David Bowie at the Warfield, and '94 sugarbush.
  • Structural changes:
    • "Landlady" was originally the middle part of "Punch You in the Eye" (see also Asse)
    • The Intro and Bridge sections of "Lushington" were incorporated into Fluff's Travels, Part 2, "The Chase." (Joshlm75, 9/6/00)
    • "Rift" grew out of "The Curtain With", a second half of what's now known as "The Curtain". Trey wrote this second half, which is often referred to as "With" as though it were a separate song, in 1987 and sped it up for inclusion in "Rift". Phish broke out The Curtain Width on 7/12/00. It is also available for sale (as a bonus track to the White Album) for download in MP3 format from emusic.com.
    • "Split Open and Melt" reached a siminal point summer of 1994 when the jam section really took on new form. Trey's even mentioned this -- the maturing of the SOAM jam, particularly as leading up to the one 6/11/94 -- as an example in an interview (with Steve Silberman for Duprees's Diamond News) as an example of how their songs change and evolve on stage. Thanks also to .
    • "Taste" appeared in June 1995, became revised as "Fog That Surrounds" in September, and since the summer of 1996 Europe tour there has been a combined and revised "Taste" in October. (The latter was initially called "Tasty Fog".)
    • "Tube" became significantly funkier over the last shows of 1997, such that setlistings became more and more complicated: Tube->Jam->Tube->Jam Reprise, or Tube->Funky Instrumental->Tube, or often Tube->Jam->Tube. Scott Silton posted (1/7/98), "OK people, it is time to adjust what you think Tube is. Except for the 'jam reprise' at Dayton, these Tubes were all very similar. The central jam section is now PART OF TUBE as far as I'm concerned unless I hear that same jam on another show during another song. In any case, the 'new Tube' is just fantabulous and I am SO psyched that they brought this one back, new and improved, THE FUNKY VERSION."
    • "Limb by Limb", "Piper", "Water in the Sky" (much faster version now), and "Black-Eyed Katy" were revamped for summer 1998 (and "Black-Eyed Katy" was renamed). And "Limb by Limb" started with Trey and Tom lyrics in February 1993, but didn't debut until 1997; according to Luann Abrahms (who posted 8/28/97) "Trey said he'd always loved the lyrics but didn't find the right music for them until now."
  • Songs emerging from improvisations:

"I can't stand to sing the same song the same way two nights in succession, let alone two years or ten years. If you can, then it ain't music; it's close-order drill or exercise or yodeling or something, not music.""
-- Billie Holliday"

Phish.net Login

Register | Forgot Password
Support Phish.net & MBIRD
The Phish Companion, 3rd Ed.


Phish.net

Phish.net is a non-commercial project run by Phish fans and for Phish fans under the auspices of the all-volunteer, non-profit Mockingbird Foundation.

This project serves to compile, preserve, and protect encyclopedic information about Phish and their music.

Credits | Terms Of Use | Legal

© 1990-2017  The Mockingbird Foundation, Inc. | Hosted by End Point Corporation