In a text to me the other day, my wife said “I love you because you’re obsessed with Phish” and it really got me thinking. Am I? If I am, WHY am I? I’ve never been this nuts about a band before – ever.
With the piano solo to “The Squirming Coil” playing in the background as I write this, I think I can sum it up for the most part with a few sentences, and then expound later. Phish are 4 dorks. They’re 4 extremely smart guys who are all talented musicians who just play for the fun of it. They don’t take themselves or their music too seriously, and in doing that, they manage to make some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. I mean, LOOK at them!
Listen to “You Enjoy Myself” for the entire song (it’s long, I warn you; sometimes 20 minutes long) and see if you can count the different musical styles interwoven into the whole piece. It starts off almost classical, then evolves into a free-flowing abyss, followed by Page’s never-played-the-same piano solo, followed immediately by a nice funky groove that hangs out for the rest of the song before deteriorating into an A-Capella ending of the song. Listen to “Harry Hood”, and you can almost see Trey squinting his eyes shut in concentration while he makes that guitar channel his inner-spirit out into the audience and it absolutely HOWLS. Let it catch you with its intensity and hard-pushing riffs, and I promise you, you’ll be hooked if you’re not dead. You can feel what he’s feeling through his music. I’m serious.
Look, I know that their music isn’t for everyone. I get it. I know some folks don’t dig jam bands or 30 minute songs. Me? I’ve always had a hard time letting go of myself or expressing certain feelings. Phish allows me to lose myself in the music, letting the notes wash over me and lifting myself out of any negativity I’m in. I can drive to work in the morning and play “Wilson” and it’ll erase any feelings of foreboding I might have, or any bad moods I’m in on the way home. It’s just a good way of re-setting myself back to zero.
I go to Phish shows, and I meet an incredibly large amount of very friendly people. Yes, you get the odd Dickhead or Wookiee (a “wook” or “Wookiee” is a person who only goes to Phish shows to get spun on ‘shrooms or acid, and doesn’t get into the music for music’s sake. They’re in it for the drugs) but really, everybody gets along pretty well. Everybody just gets together at shows and dances. Those of you who know me, know that I hate dancing in public, but for Phish shows, I just can’t help it. My eyes close, my head nods, and I start to groove – in place at first… then harder, and before I know it, I’m dancing around all over the place. It’s so incredibly liberating. Like dancing in your room by yourself. Nobody gives a shit how you look, and people encourage you to keep it up.
Let’s not forget the light shows. Chris Kuroda, their light guy, started out in the mid-80’s as a friend/fan of the band. He used 1 light and some colored cellophane, and now he’s using multi-million dollar lighting equipment. He’s in demand all over the musical world, but his roots are with Phish. The light shows just blow you away, drunk, stoned, or sober. They’re timed to the music, and they just look incredible.
I have books on Phish, bootleg CD’s, posters, shirts, hats, you name it. I believe in supporting a band that has been so instrumental in helping me find that calm place inside myself. My wife loves Phish too, and jams to the music also – but she’s nowhere near the Phreak I am for them. It’s okay. She’s such a musical genius for it all anyway, that I love going to shows with her and listening to new music with her. Lately though, she’s been listening to a lot of Phish, because that’s all I have in the 6-disc CD player in the truck. She doesn’t complain though. I love her. 🙂
So, am I obsessed with Phish? Yep. I guess I am. Give ’em a listen sometime.