Vocals: Trey, Mike
Original Artist: ZZ Top
Original Album: Tres Hombres (1973)
Historian: Phillip Zerbo (pzerbo)
Last Update: 2012-07-27
ZZ Top brings a combustible stew to the table: a little Texas boogie, a dash of liquored-up cowboy twang, a few ounces of down-home blues, and a shot of good ol’ boy rock-and-roll. Their acclaimed 1973 Tres Hombres produced two songs that would find their way into the Phish repertoire: “Jesus Just Left Chicago” and ZZ Top’s first top 40 hit, “La Grange.”
Phish’s first known performance of “La Grange” was at Nectar’s on 8/9/87, a show that also contains the first known versions of “Divided Sky,” “Fee,” “Harpua,” and “The Sloth.” Mike shows off his extended range of vocal capabilities, and if you can keep yourself from laughing (“A haw, haw, haw, haw”), his deep, soulful serenade of the first verse is often quite impressive. Trey takes the second verse, usually accompanied by a roaring guitar solo.
“La Grange” was a staple in the Phish repertoire from 1987 through 1991, with 25 appearances in 1990 alone. Then the song's frequency drops substantially: there were only a dozen performances from 1992 through 9/22/99. Versions of “La Grange” do not vary much, even over the dozen years between the first and most recent performances. Solid versions appear in a number of outstanding Phish shows, including: 5/25/88, 8/26/89 (Live Phish 09), 11/2/90, 8/2/93, 8/14/93 (Live Phish 07), and 12/29/96. A notable appearance was on 12/29/95, with guest Jim Stinnett, Mike’s former bass instructor.
Seemingly consigned to the dustbin of Phish history, the partisans at SPAC were treated to the song’s return to the stage on 7/8/12. After a 301-show performance gap, “La Grange” closed out the first set of this spectacular tour-ending gig, leaving fans to proclaim, “Have Mercy!”
Phish, “La Grange” – 7/8/12, Saratoga Springs, NY