a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation

Performances Song History Lyrics

Show of Life

Music/Lyrics: Anastasio, Pollak

Vocals: Trey (lead), Mike, Page (backing)

Original Artist: Trey Anastasio

Albums: TAB at the TAB

Debut: 2010-06-11

Historian: Phillip Zerbo (pzerbo)

Last Update: 2014-01-15

"Show of Life" represents the first songwriting collaboration by members of Phish and Steve Pollak, a.k.a. "The Dude of Life" in over 15 years. A radical departure from earlier, more whimsical efforts such as "Suzy Greenberg" or "Dinner and a Movie" (much less "Bitchin' Again" or "Self"), "Show of Life" gives the first hints of a more mature "Dude." 

Similar in musical structure to "Waste" and "Prince Caspian" with a solitary guitar intro, slow build, and space for a climactic jam should they desire, "Show of Life" is outwardly heartfelt and clearly self-referential. While stylistically a very traditional pop/rock song, it's origins were decidedly modern: while strolling through Manhattan's Upper West Side after lunch, Trey and Steve recorded a demo on Trey's iPhone with the FourTrack app, and the essential structure of the song recorded that afternoon remains in the live version.

"Show of Life" made its debut with Trey's solo outfit on 2/8/10, and it was played in eleven of the sixteen shows on that tour, usually late in the second set or as an encore. Indeed the song seems to have a very intentional late second set/set ending/encore vibe, with the expression of thanks and reflective ending chorus that we all "Find ourselves right here, in the show of life." "Show of Life" assumed the prominent second-set closing slot on its first two performances (6/11/10 at Toyota Park and 6/19/10 at SPAC) and then leading the encore at Merriweather on 6/26/10.

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makisupaman Reply
makisupaman When I saw the Phish debut of 'Show of Life' on 6/11/10, I didn't really appreciate the lyrical content. My grandmother coincidentally passed away that same weekend, and on re-hearing the recording of the show this song became sort of an anthem of her life to me and certainly aided in my dealing with the loss of her. Strange things, these Phish-related moments....Thanks to Trey and the Dude as well.
Score: 5
JoeMoeTokyo Reply
I was couch surfing the '13/'14 NYE MSG show the other day. When they played this for the encore, you could clearly hear one fan shout "Nooo!" in disappointment. I don't know how or why the audio feed picked up that one voice so clearly, but I laughed pretty hard. I think he summed up the feelings of a lot of fans about this song. I kind of understand. It is overly sentimental. It's heartfelt, but too on the nose with the emotions. And it lacks that distinctive Phish vibe - many bands could have written or played this tune.

But at the same time, it's not an objectively bad song and there is no reason to complain, except for that feeling of 'I really wanted to hear xxxx, not yyyyy', which is a natural tendency, but one that people should try to overcome. This song obviously is meaningful and resonates deeply with Trey and the boys, so let them sing it. Playing what they want and what they feel is a key ingredient in making Phish so awesome. They need to keep it that way. So we have to take the Show of Life's with the Tweezer Reprise's.
Score: 3
StillWading Reply
StillWading What differentiates these guys from artists who try to be everything to everybody is that it doesn't seem like they really try. It just kind of happens They obviously put extraodinary effort into their craft but it never really seems forced. Toyota Park was my first show in almost fifteen years and while recollection is weak, it was super sweet to hear that first time and revisit since then. Kind of brought me back to those days of Jerry singing the soulful So Many Roads. Speaking of The Dead, does anyone else hear a slower Foolish Heart melody in Show Of Life? In listening to them now I often wonder how many faces they remember from decades ago, some teenagers back then. This song makes me think that there have been quite a few surprises over the years. How cool would that be to have such a connection for so long.
Score: 1
kipmat Reply
kipmat The music for this song seems to borrow from Neil Young's "Out On The Weekend". Which is not a bad thing, IMO.
Score: 0
Harryshappyplace Reply
Harryshappyplace I really like this song, I feel a lot of people don't really appreciate it, call the lyrics "corny" or w/e and dismiss it as a lame 3.0 song. I especially love the line "I'd like to take this time, to thank you all" kinda like that line from Loving Cup. Very humble IMO
Score: 0
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