The Mystery of Two Songs

7.3.10 (W.Rogell)

As Phish steps into Leg II of summer tour, they will undoubtedly bust out more songs, both old and new, digging deeper into their never-ending catalog. Beginning this process over the early summer, the band exhumed some of their oldest pieces, while also breaking out more elusive, contemporary songs. Between “Fuck Your Face,” “The Connection,” “Alumni Blues” and “Nothing,” Phish touched on their earliest days through their post-hiatus era. But despite the copious bust-outs over Leg I, Phish inexplicably continued to leave two shining gems of their post-hiatus years on the sidelines – “Scents and Subtle Sounds” and ” A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing.”

6.27.10 (B.Colligan)

These two songs, one moving towards the light and one moving toward darkness, provided defining jams of ’03 and ’04, and why Phish consistently ignores them has become baffling. Last year, the band played two versions of “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” – both in the first leg of summer. In Knoxville, the band didn’t jam the song, drifting thematically into “Waves,” while Deer Creek was a different story. After a 90-minute lightening-induced setbreak, Phish dropped the song as a heavy opener amidst the storm. Moving into a brief ambient section, the piece showcased one of 3.0’s first creative excursions, and was certainly a step in the right direction. Though it seemed to be gaining momentum, this song hasn’t been heard from again. Phish dropped only one version of “Scents and Subtle Sounds” in 2009, a succinct kick-down to lead off their last set at MSG.

6.25.10 (G.Lucas)

In the first show of Summer 2003, Phish introduced a new blissful jam out of the depths of “Wolfman’s Brother,” and before anyone knew it, “Scents and Subtle Sounds” made a splash on the scene. Working its way into regular rotation and and providing the springboard for two of the tour’s most impressive jams,”Scents” wasted no time becoming a staple of Summer ’03. Opening the third night of Deer Creek with a 20-plus minute jaunt, Phish broke the song wide open. However, the band one-upped themselves a week later in Camden, New Jersey, playing a first-set version that reached into very essence of Phish exploration. Organically building out of the theme, the band built a quintessential post-hiatus masterpiece that still stands the test of time. Segueing in and out of “Scents” in a prominent third-set slot during ’03’s end-of-summer festival, IT, Phish confirmed their passion for their new song.

One year later, on the brink of Coventry, Phish closed their last conventional show in Camden with another adventure into the void. Favoring darker, ambient textures that reflected the tone of the time, Phish crafted an abstract sonic mural as their last amphitheatre work of art, and their final truly sublime excursion of their “career.”

Undermind (2004)

After a album-version debut of “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” debuted during 2004’s opening set at Coney Island, Phish came back two shows later and redefined the song forever. Opening SPAC’s second set on June 19, Phish wove a stunning tale of psychedelia that reached more than one soul-caressing passage. With a jam so perfect that it sounded pre-written, Phish hit the nail directly on the head in their second voyage into darkness deep. In one of SPAC’s crowning moments, Phish threw down the only epic version of the “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” before signing off later that summer.

7.4.10 (W.Rogell)

So that brings us to today. Phish has reached far and wide into their song repertoire, and barely touched upon these two pieces that drip all sorts of potential. Some fans posit theories that these songs bring unwelcome memories of a dark era in Trey’s history. Really? Phish has brought “Undermind” into the mix, and routinely play “Seven Below,” “and “46 Days” from that era, while occasionally reverencing Undermind (the album), so I don’t buy the “bad memory theory.” If this was the case, then why did they bring them back at all? Though I have no logical way to explain their absence, there must be something more going on here. No?

The mystery remains why Phish allows two of their most profound jam vehicles to sit in the wings as they continue to bring out every other piece in their songbook. The return of one or both of these pieces to improvisational prominence tops any list of pipe dreams I could write as we inch closer to The Greek. Likely? No, but at this point anything is possible. Maybe I should bring a sign.


Jam of the Day: Leg II Venue History Week

Tweezer > Fluffhead” 8.1.98 II

A recent SBD leak of the staggering “Tweezer” from Alpine ’98.




Telluride ’88 < Torrent / Telluride ’88 < Megaupload

Colorado '88

Dipping into the archives, today we have a catch-all SBD download of the band’s first visit to Telluride, Colorado in 1988. In this one file set, not only is there the classic 8.6.88 show from The Roma, but also partial recordings from three shows earlier shows in the week, as Phish between The Roma and Fly Me To the Moon Saloon due to a booking oversight. Check the setlists below.

7.29.88 The Roma – Partial

Colonel Forbin’s > Mockingbird, I Didn’t Know, Good Times, Bad Times, Rocky Top, Light Up or Leave Me Alone, Contact, Whipping Post, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Take the ‘A’ Train, McGrupp, Bold As Love

7.30.88 III The Roma

Harpua, Fluffhead, Anarchy, Dear Mrs. Reagan, Terrapin, Antelope E: Fire

8.3.88 III Fly Me To the Moon Saloon

?: Freebird, II: I Know A Little, YEM, Jesus Left Chicago III: Peaches En Regalia, Mike’s > Hydrogen > Fluffhead, Happy Birthday, Harry Hood, Satin Doll, Funky Bitch, Walk Away

8.6.88 The Roma

I: La Grange, YEM > Cities, Take the ‘A’ Train, Funky Bitch, Dinner and a Movie*, Fire

II: Golgi, AC/DC Bag, Satin Doll, BBFCFM, Slave to the Traffic Light*

*track cuts off

All sources are SBD

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1,469 Responses to “The Mystery of Two Songs”

  1. butter Says:

    puffin, spinnin Bob Dylan “Desire”

    did you turn 16 BK?

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    I don’t know what his technique is like at all now, but before he started relying on the looping he was actually a superb modern fingerstyle guitarist

    definitely dug the pre-loop keller more, just seeing him around, not as a celebrity but more like just a dude from the scene…I did a bunch of promo work for him at one point before he joined Mad House, more or less because he was just a nice guy at the time

  3. Stupendous a.k.a The Beasel Says:

    puffn u say

  4. BrandonKayda Says:

    Yeah @butter I turned 16 June 30th.

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    mais oui, mon ami – merci!

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    over here Duane Allman Anthology just ended and somehow Hot Tuna Burgers is up next

    great album, not sure I’m up for the whole thing

  7. butter Says:

    Happy Belated 16th BK

    one month before mine, July 30th

    i feel less dirty telling a 16 year old i am puffin than a 15 year old….lol

    had a tour opener at RR last year for my bday….going to be hard to top that

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    also kicked some Dizzy Gillespie earlier for the first time in ages

    damn, the original live Manteca is such a fucking badass jam

    phish fans, you’ve all heard that, right?


  9. butter Says:

    i’m kinda skimmin myself, got 50 Dylan ablums this month,

    had like 4 or 5 until this month

  10. Stupendous a.k.a The Beasel Says:

    Ya i first saw keller back in 99
    when it was him, an acoustic guitar and a looper…
    still pretty cool… he busted out a bird song and i remember asking who is this guy…. and an older hipp lady turns around and says “he’s Keller Williams,
    we looooooove him…. then after i saw him a few times… he was increasing his arsenal…. circa 01 it was pretty interesting…..then he lost me by adding all these instruments he simply cant play right….(03)….. havnt been able to dig it ever since, plus my disgust for SCI after 02 played a role in that..

  11. butter Says:

    Don’t think i have C

  12. BrandonKayda Says:

    I’ve heard the Manteca in the middle of the Stash from 11-14-95, and it was indeed funky. Trey on the kit!


    Haha, don’t sweat it – its not l don’t know people who smoke by now lol. Not interested though.

    Greek in 7 days!!!

  13. Stupendous a.k.a The Beasel Says:

    just picked up a copy of a herbie hancock lp ive never seen b4
    pretty dope!

    me n my buddy are doing these vinyl fests every other night,
    where he picks a side of an album from his collection i should hear
    and then i pick one from my collection thtat he should hear…

    listened to some Boredoms remix albums that are pretty insane..

  14. BrandonKayda Says:

    Keller Williams…is he the guy who loops acoustic guitar and then jumps to bass/steel guitar/keys/etc? I think I saw a video of him before that was pretty cool. Good rhythm player from what I saw – Haven’t heard much of his live stuff other than videos. Have heard no studio stuff

  15. butter Says:

    i started when i was 15,

    i guess Friday is my 20th anniversary of getting baned

  16. butter Says:

    that’s him BK

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    uploading OG Manteca now.

    @BK you know the 10-30-98 Manteca?

    It’s Mantepic.


    @butter, many Dylan albums benefit greatly from skimming

    50 is kind of a lot

  18. Stupendous a.k.a The Beasel Says:


    good rhythm player indeed, but if you want to see where his style comes from
    check out michael hedges and leo Kotke…

  19. Stupendous a.k.a The Beasel Says:

    whos got my headies!

  20. butter Says:

    yea, it includes live releases and includes the “Bootleg Series” which is a bunch of disks (a few long pages in itunes)

    my buddy whose musical tastes crossover at i guess, Bob Dylan had his hard drive over here and said hey “do you want every Dylan album”

    i said, ok

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    as of about 99-2000 which is when he got super into the cheese scene and I drifted away, kw had about 20-30 Dead songs in rotation, some of them fairly cool. He did a Bird Song > Other One > Bird Song thing that was fun. He’s a for-real deadhead and was playing from the heart, at least.

    He did Lizards and…um…the Sloth, and maybe Antelope too.

    I liked the looping as a stunt at first but I thought it got played out, took over his act, and led him outside his comfort zone after a bit…

    I have a 2 cd comp from back in the day of him doing a bunch of the Dead covers. Pre looping era I think

  22. butter Says:

    then he’s got one of his own tunes about being on tour and all that

  23. voidboy Says:

    “One man Band?”

    I saw a guy like that open for the Polyphonic Spree (who have, like 22 members).

    Pretty cool stuff… amazing to keep an audience entertained as you run around stage banging out tunes and loops of tunes.

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    he’s got a lot of songs about the lot and such

    Portapotty being the infamous one

  25. butter Says:

    i’m out, my internet is runnin slow up here in the country

    i want to get the og Manteca from you tomorrow C


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