Two events over the last couple of weeks got me thinking about nostalgia and memory. First, Phish have reunited (and it feels so good) and will be touring in the summer. Suffice it to say that I’m excited and I look forward to the shows in June. It is interesting that when Phish – read Trey Anastasio – decided to call it quits in 2004 it was in part that they did not want to become a nostalgia act. While I understand that sentiment, I never embraced it. As the years went by, Phish became more and more of a piece of nostalgia to me than something that my life revolved around. Though nostalgia can have negative connotations, or at the least bittersweet associations, I always felt good remembering the “good old days” maybe because they were really good and my current life is really good and better in some ways. When Phish announced the end, I was, for lack of a better word, heartbroken. It created a void in my life that nothing really could replace. More than that, however, was the fact that I wasn’t going to get the chance to share this part of me with my son (and now daughter.) Sure, I can play them recordings, even show them a DVD or two, but nothing compares to a real live Phish show, not even the various solo projects that the assorted members embarked on during the interim. The truth was, and is, Phish was IT for me. There is no other way to describe the relationship. I love all kinds of music, to be sure, been to hundreds of concerts, but Phish shows do something else for me. I know part of it is the fact that Phish, ironically enough, is sober music for me. It has such a joyous, upbeat quality and it infects the entire atmosphere of the show. I would have HATED Phish when I was drinking. Sober, I am able to embrace the energy of a show and feel at home. That is the other aspect that I can put my finger on, I feel completely comfortable at a show. I dance (which my wife constantly reminds me is a poor excuse for dancing) sing along and let myself get completely swept up in the moment. I have no inhibitions about how I’m moving or acting, as the song goes, “I’m just sharing in the groove.” The rest of the appeal is a bit of mystery, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Even if the kids don’t embrace the music and the scene I’m so happy that the possibility exists once again to share it with them. Sure, every show is tied up with feelings of nostalgia, but that is a good thing. A book I just read on the 1950s and nostalgia makes the argument that nostalgia can help foster a community identity, relating it to a collected or imagined past. That’s what Phish is now, for me anyway. It’s a part of the past that I remember fondly and I can share with others.*
I’ll save the other nostalgia event in another post. Five hundred words are enough of my ramblings for anyone to suffer through.