So there was this a few months ago and it was painful to read. RtBE decided to poll our friends who collectively have been to over 3,912 Phish shows to see their thoughts on the topic. Here is the discussion that took place:
I had the idea that I wanted to get a lot of opinions on this insane Spin article from earlier in the year and you are the people who I know who care about/have opinions on the band, so what do you think?
I'm on my way back from Vegas (Phish's Halloween Show), btw, and that's quite possibly the dumbest piece ever written about Phish. Now I can't believe they let him (Richard Gehr) write the Phish book.
There are definitely too many shitty/lackluster articles out there...most of them are the same garbage over and over again.
Ha - Herman's note made me laugh. I had the exact same reaction as did Boehmcke I believe. Making a 1-N comparison to eg. "Lengthwise" to "Dog Gone Dog" is just stupid and meaningless. And, then I see "Back on The Train" a few notches above which is just plain retarded and I get even angrier at this stupid article and the fact I'm reading it.
At almost every show, the one I went into hearing most was not the one I walked away the most excited about.
'Top 5' is circumstantial.
Exactly. Spontaneously whipping out "Mirror in the Bathroom" in the middle of a "Chalkdust Torture" isn't something you can put in a list. And any fan knows that. Now if he rated specific versions of a song, I could see there being a better argument.
I don't know how many shows I've been to Shawn, I think 18 in the past year is all I can say. And at this point I just wait for the energy and the improv. This song or that song is meaningless at this point. Except certain songs I know are guaranteed to open up, though never a guaranty to hit the highs.
12/29/97 was my favorite and probably will always be, though you all should go and listen to the depths of big cypress. I haven't really since we were there and it was special.
Yes it certainly was, thanks for that video link, brought me right back. All their shows pale in comparison really. It is that and then everything else. 12/29/97 was a lot of fun, I can still feel the earth move. If I had to pick a non Cypress show it would coincidentally be between the "Mirror In the Bathroom" show on 11/27/98 or Albany's bring in the dude nonsense on 12/13/97...which was the first night I really got it and fell into Mike's meaty bass.
I'm going to read this article but only whilst sitting upon the roof of the writers car with him locked inside. That way I can read the article to his tour dogs while they listen intently and watch their master as he dies in a slow car fire.
"At this point I just wait for the energy and the improv. This song or that song is meaningless at this point. Except certain songs I know are guaranteed to open up"-Herman
While I don't have the time to go long on this right now, this to me is another silly "listicle" of dubious intrinsic value. It doesn't even rank all their originals, only the ones that have been released on live albums. And what is the sense of grouping covers and originals together?
But it does generate discussion. Halleys comet in the top 20? Those are some of their most embarrassing lyrics. TTE top 20? No. Whats the Use at 7? Bizarre.
I would have been interested in a list like "Top 10 Phish Songs That Defy Your Puny Pre-conceptions":
limb x limb
Fuck your Face
Whats the Use?
I agree with all the in the moment stuff, but if I was pinned down and had to pick a top 5 list for tunes I dig by them I could "Run Like An Antelope", "Piper", "Ghost", "First Tube", "Get Back On The Train" and not shockingly only one of them really has any lyrics to speak of. One thing that frustrates me, especially recently about the band is that they have never written a great album, let alone a great song. If someone has never heard Phish what song could you play for them to get them into them? The best they have ever done is "Bouncing Around the Room" followed closely by "The Connection" which no one ever wants to talk about....
That written out though they are still by far the best live band I have ever seen and for the last 5 or so years songs don't matter, Herm is right it is just when the band wants to take off that I am into, but I am only seeing one or two shows a year at this point.
I think Chalkdust qualifies (as a great song). My vasoconstrictors always came undone in high school.
Thanks to everyone for participating and reading.