Photo by Bill Kelly
Yesterday over on Relix.com we shared 13 Tracks Phish Have Never Played At MSG (they played one of these—“Billy Breathes”—so we have 12 to go). Today we share 13 covers they may bust out during the run…
Covers are an integral part of the Phish experience. Songs like “Ya Mar” and “Funky Bitch” are so ingrained in the band’s repertoire that we forget they’re even covers at all. With 13 nights to cover songs or, fingers crossed, entire albums at MSG, Phish definitely have some tricks up their sleeves. Here are 13 long forgotten covers the band hasn’t played since their 2004 break-up. Keep your eye out for them at the Baker’s Dozen:
“Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry
It’s hard to believe Phish hasn’t busted out this Chuck Berry classic since 1998. A favorite of countless rock bands, including the Grateful Dead, “Johnny B. Goode” would be a great encore for any of the 13 nights of the Baker’s Dozen. It would also act as a fitting tribute to Berry, an innovator and legend who we lost in March 2017.
“I’m Blue I’m Lonesome” by Bill Monroe
Played 30 times between 1994 and 2000, this Bill Monroe original brings out Phish’s bluegrass side. In the past, they’ve played it in a traditional bluegrass format with Page on upright bass, Fishman on mandolin, Mike on banjo and Trey on the acoustic guitar. “I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome” would be a quirky way to start a set at the Baker’s Dozen and maybe even use it as an excuse to bring out a special guest (a 11/29/95 performance featured Béla Fleck and a 7/18/99 performance featured the legendary Del McCoury).
“Great Gig In The Sky” by Pink Floyd
Because its most recent, and most notable, performance was during the band’s Dark Side of the Moon set on 11/2/98, people often forget that Phish played “Great Gig in the Sky” consistently throughout 1993. The Baker’s Dozen is designed to be a special event, and a Pink Floyd cover would be a fantastic way to add to its magic. (As long as Fishman warms up his vocal chords, of course.)
There’s a couple of reasons Phish might dust off this Allman Brothers favorite for their MSG residency. First, it could be played as a tribute to Gregg Allman and (occasional Phish collaborator) Butch Trucks, who both passed this year. On the other hand, it could be used as a throwback tune. “Whipping Post” was played at the band’s first known concert at the University of Vermont, and it appeared on setlists consistently throughout the mid ‘80s and early ‘90s. Phish’s last “Whipping Post” was played on 7/22/1999, so it’s definitely long overdue.
“Crossroads” by Robert Johnson
Written by delta blues icon Robert Johnson and popularized by Eric Clapton, “Crossroads” widely recognized as an extraordinary jam vehicle. In the past, Phish has played it nine times between 1993 and 1998, including an appearance during the 1997 New Year’s run at MSG. “Crossroads” has a current show gap of 557, but with the way summer tour is shaping up bustouts are inevitable. If Trey was feeling bold, he could bring “Crossroads” back to MSG, rip into the guitar solo and burn that place to the ground.
“Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley
“Suspicious Minds” was last heard at the band’s famed Vegas ‘96 show, as part of an epic “Harpua” encore that featured several covers, a Les Claypool appearance, four Elvis impersonators and Fishman taking centerstage, vamping it up as the fifth King. Smart money says Vegas ‘96 was the last time we’ll ever hear this cover, but at the Baker’s Dozen anything can happen. The King did love his desserts…
”Caravan” by Duke Ellington
Assuming that Phish is joined by a horn section at The Baker’s Dozen (even if rumors currently suggest that there will be no guests over the course of the run), “Caravan” would be an excellent addition to the setlist. Jazzy, with an exotic, almost Arabian flare, this number was last played on 12/29/96 at The Spectrum in Philadelphia, but perhaps its most impressive version came when Merl Saunders joined Phish on keyboards in April 1994. If Phish wants to dig deep into their back catalogue, reviving “Caravan” would be a smart move. It has a swaying, seductive vibe, and almost a century after its composition it continues to be as intoxicating as the day it was written.
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