Camel Walk

Originally Performed ByPhish
Appears On
Music/LyricsJeff Holdsworth
VocalsTrey (lead), Mike, Page (backing)
Phish Debut1984-11-03
Last Played2019-07-12
Current Gap5
HistorianEllis Godard (lemuria); Phillip Zerbo (pzerbo)
Last Update2019-06-07

History

This is an original Jeff Holdsworth composition for Phish, one of the two (along with “Possum”) that Phish still features in their repertoire. Jeff, who sang lead on all versions prior to leaving Phish in ‘86, mysteriously introduced “Camel Walk” on 4/25/86, and fans will want to check out that entertaining early show to find out what meaning he intended to impart with this dastardly tune. Fun early versions include 10/17/85, 10/15/86, and 8/21/87. Following a dwindling of appearances in the late ‘80s, the song disappeared altogether after 2/24/89, not showing up again until the classic 7/2/95 Sugarbush gig, after six years and 758 shows. However, the band did tease "Camel Walk" once during this gap on 02/23/90 during "You Enjoy Myself".

"Camel Walk" – 12/12/97, Albany, NY

Though more or less faithful to early incarnations, performances subsequent to Sugarbush have been at a more languid, oozing pace. They also lack Jeff’s brief, prog-rocky bridge, which the band attempted on 2/26/97, but which adds some complexity at the expense of listening pleasure. Other versions of note include 8/14/97 (“the funk is too deep!”), 7/24/99 (accompanied by the first “Alumni Blues” in five years), 7/29/03 Star Lake, 12/1/03 (featuring Jeff Holdsworth himself on guitar & vocals), and 4/16/04 (with “Wilson” and “Theme from Barney Miller” teases).

"Camel Walk" – 10/31/10, Atlantic City, NJ. Video by HarpuaFSB.

2010 saw the most appearances of “Camel Walk” in any year in the song’s history (seven), including at high-profile gigs such as 8/9/10 Telluride, 10/31/10 Atlantic City, and 12/30/10 at MSG… when the P.A. cut out mid-song! “Camel Walk” has remained in light though steady rotation throughout 3.0, making appearances at both of the Watkins Glen festivals (7/2/11 Super Ball and 8/22/15 Magnaball), another Atlantic City Halloween performance on 10/31/13, and opening the middle night of the Barceló Maya resort gig in Riviera Maya, Mexico on 1/16/16. In the 2018 Fall tour on 10/21/18 Phish played a funky, stretched out version complete with a "Skin It Back" tease echoing its placement earlier in the set. 

In 2006 "Camel Walk" made its TAB debut during Trey's first set on 11/03/06 and it has remained in his acoustic repertoire since 2011. Check out the version from 02/22/11 that was dedicated to Fish, contains a "Going downtown to Morocco" lyric change, and is the "Shortest version of that song ever." In the spring of 2019 TAB played a four night run in the south where they debuted a new version of "Camel Walk" on 05/28/19, this time for the full band complete with horns and double time drumming. Before this terrific and unique version of the song Trey told the crowd "We just learned this one but you guys have heard it before; not with us." 

"Camel Walk" – 8/22/15, Watkins Glen, NY. Video by LazyLightning55a.

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