[Originally Published: October 6, 2011]
On Saturday night at Higher Ground [2013 ed. note – this took place on October 1, 2011], Trey Anastasio and his solo band debuted a song written by Trey and Tom Marshall for which there’s been some confusion about the song title. At first, it was thought that the name of the song was Winter Queen before LivePhish.com’s official recording labeled the track as Glacier. Yesterday, Glacier was renamed Winterqueen on LivePhish.com bringing us back towards where we started [2013 ed. note – Surprisingly, Winterqueen/Glacier has yet to be performed a second time]
The reason we mentioned that anecdote is that sometimes Phish or Trey debuts a song with one name only to change the title later to something else. For this week’s B List, we look at nine cases where that happened. Keep in mind, we shied away from cases where wholesale changes were made to the song that led to the name change, such as Black Eyed Katy becoming Moma Dance and Taste becoming Fog That Surrounds (before becoming Taste again). With that in mind, let’s look at ten song title changes in Phish history (with lots of help from Phish.net Song Histories)…
The first two entries on our list were debuted at the Portsmouth Music Hall at Phish’s first show of 1992 on March 6. At that performance, Phish debuted six (if you include the “fast” Rift) songs, some of which would go on to be released as part of the Rift LP one year later. Trey Anastasio mentioned the titles of most of the debuts that night and referred to what we now know as My Friend, My Friend and NICU as Knife and In an Intensive Care Unit respectively.
The Jon Fishman original Faht, which appeared on the album Picture of Nectar, was first known as Windham Hell. This sound effect-laden track had its title changed without Fish’s knowledge when the album came out.
The Phish.net song history, written by Ellis Godard and Mark Toscano, explains…
Arguably a parody of new age music, Jon labeled the tune “Windham Hell,” alluding to new age distributor Windham Hill Records. Fish was on vacation as the Nectar liner notes were being scripted, and the other band members elected to resolve potential conflict (legal or otherwise) with Windham Hill by changing the song’s title. What to change it to? Well, in the November 1991 Phish Update newsletter, “Fish’s Forum” included a misspelling, whereby the intended mock-Southern phrase “raht tuh the front door” lost its reputed meaning when “raht” became “faht.” Fish was annoyed with this gaffe, and his band mates, ever trying to get Fish’s goat, decided to change “Windham Hell’s” title to “Faht,” claiming that Elektra had misspelled the title he had chosen.
Most tunes written at the beginning of Phish’s career were penned by Anastasio, so when bassist Mike Gordon brought a song to the band they simply called it “Mike Wrote That” or “Microdot.” Trey announced this original title from stage on October 17, 1985 and at some point shortly after that the title morphed to Mike’s Song. The rest, as they say, is history.
And now the most interesting story on this list. Back at Trey Anastasio’s tour opener of his first solo tour in 1999, Big Red unveiled a new instrumental during his acoustic set. Trey mentioned he didn’t have a title and said he’d go with whatever name was assigned by the person who first posted that night’s setlist on the internet. Jesse Jarnow called in the first setlist that was posted on rec.music.phish…
“In the first set there was an untitled instrumental. Trey said that whomever posted the setlist first got to name it. In deference to aLi’s [McDowell] misreading of the word “instrumental” on my setlist, we hereby request that the tune be named “Minestrone“.”
The next night Trey dedicated the song to Jesse and Ali but told the crowd that he decided on the title Purple Hugh instead. A few shows later, Big Red told an Asheville crowd that he felt bad about not living up to his promise and wanted the name returned to Minestrone. Eventually, at a 2000 Carnegie Hall show, Anastasio renamed the song as The Inlaw Josie Wales and that title has stuck ever since.
We couldn’t resist mentioning the tale behind Phish’s cover of the traditional song Paul and Silas on this list. When Phish first started covering the bluegrass song in 1990, they sung the tune as “Hall In Solace” having mistakenly thought that was the actual name of it. It took until 1992 for someone to correct the newbish band and they have been singing “Paul and Silas” ever since.
This soundcheck favorite, and in-show rarity, was originally titled Dog Gone Dog on The White Tape. The name quickly shifted to Dog Log and its appeared on all official releases since The White Tape as such.
Another tune debuted at Trey Anastasio’s tour opener of his first solo tour in 1999, Trey mentioned this song was called Bake and Boil that evening, but decided to change the name to Mountains In The Mist by the next show.
Known to be played only five times in concert between September 27, 1985 and December 6, 1986, Trey told a Burlington radio audience that this timely piece was called Trust Fund Baby. That name didn’t stick as the band’s notes moving forward (as per Phish.com) call it Prep School Hippie. Regardless, this is one we don’t expect to see hit a Phish stage anytime soon.
Those are the nine songs whose titles have changed while the tune itself has stayed the same that we’ve come up with. Got any more?