Garden Party

Originally Performed ByRicky Nelson
Original AlbumGarden Party (1972)
Phish Debut2012-12-31
Last Played2012-12-31
Current Gap155
HistorianTim Wade (TheEmu)
Last Update2013-03-01


On October 15, 1971, Ricky Nelson joined the likes of Bo Diddly, Chuck Berry and Bobby Rydell for a concert at Madison Square Garden. Nelson, with long hair and wearing typical 70’s attire, began his set by playing some of his old hits. Then he broke into “Country Honk,” a country version of The Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Woman,” and when the crowd began booing, Nelson left the stage. Whatever the reason for the crowd’s reaction, Nelson thought it was because he looked different and played something unfamiliar to the fans, and he channeled his displeasure with the episode into a single released the following year. “Garden Party” recounts the events of the concert and Nelson’s ultimate conclusion that “You can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.”

Ricky Nelson, “Garden Party”

It’s interesting to note that a song which laments not being able to play new material led off the final Phish concert in 2012, which was the first touring year since Phish’s 1983 formation in which no original songs were debuted. It’s hard to imagine that the band wasn’t aware of the irony when Mike crooned, “If memories were all I sang, I’d rather drive a truck.” But the choice to open their New Year’s Eve 2012 concert with “Garden Party” was also appropriate, hinting at that year’s gag, which included artificial turf covering the arena floor and stage; actors sunbathing and playing croquet, badminton, and golf; and a “runaway golf cart marathon.” The song also made its Phish debut, in the arena for which it is named, on the 27th anniversary of Nelson’s death.

Phish, “Garden Party” – 12/31/12, New York, NY

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