This is a blog about Phish. If you have no interest in such things, I suggest you move on at this point. Thank you.
Ah, summer weather in Chicago and Phish tickets on sale in the same week, a great convergence causing me to think of summer shows and getting closer to the mini-milestone of fifty Phish shows in my concert going career. I’m well aware that I compared to many Phishheads that isn’t a lot of shows, but I do what I can, when I can. I’m amazed at how each year I look forward to many of the familiar aspects of going to shows; the drive to Alpine Valley, seeing what folks are doing in the parking lot, and chatting up my fellow fans as we wait patiently (or not so patiently) for the show to begin.
It’s during these pre-show discussions that I have become a bit self-conscious. Most of the time we talk about where we’ve come from (I’m always amazed at the amount of heads from Minnesota), where our seats are for the next show, what song we think is going to open the show and what songs we’d really like to see. It’s this last point that makes me feel like such a dork (like being a Phish fan isn’t a golden ticket to the dork club. Shut up.) Every time we talk about what we’d like to hear that night my compatriots mention great songs like Mike’s Song or Ghost or Tweezer and on and on about great, jam vehicle songs. Don’t get me wrong, I want to hear those songs too, especially Mike’s, but if you get right down to it, I have a dirty little secret when it comes to the song I most want to hear. It’s not one of the more poppy songs like Strange Design or Heavy Things. It’s not one of the more obscure songs in the catalog that make an appearance every tour here and there like Fuck Your Face or Icculus. It’s not even a song I particularly like. No, the song I want to hear may very well be one of the lamest songs in the Phish cannon. I want to hear My Sweet One.
My Sweet One is a little bluegrass ditty that appears on the 1990 album, Lawn Boy. It’s recorded running time is, by Phish standards, a paltry 2 minutes 08 seconds. There is nothing spectacular or inventive about the song. It doesn’t launch off into crazy exploratory jams when played live and I would venture to guess that most fans couldn’t care less if it were played at all. Yet it has become my holy grail. Since about my thirtieth show or so it has been, according to my personal Phish Stats, the most popular song not played in the amount of shows I’ve seen. It’s not like many of the songs on my missing list, songs that have been pretty much retired by the band. Songs like Take the A Train or Big Ball Jam. Those songs haven’t been played since 1994 when the venues started getting larger and reaching the crowd became harder. What’s even more frustrating is that they pretty much play it at least once every tour, yet it never finds its way to the few shows I get to each year.
I know to many, including many Phishheads this is just a silly concern, “Go to the show, have a good time, don’t think about your stats,” they say and for the most part I do. Yet in the back of my mind I keep thinking, “come on…just one little song…just My Sweet One and I’ll feel much better.” If it doesn’t happen in the first set I’m pretty certain that I’ve gone another show without seeing that damn song. This has led to a couple of embarrassing moments, most recently at Toyota Park in 2009. I thought when I heard Paul and Silas kick in that it was My Sweet One and of course cheered wildly. It’ sad really that I would cheer wildly for Sweet One in any case, but the confused looks I got from the folks around me indicated that when my ship finally comes in I will be the only passenger. I have noticed in recent tours that the band will play songs that fans make signs for like Funky Bitch or Ha Ha Ha. But those are decidedly better songs than Sweet One (well Funky Bitch anyway) and again the sad fact that I care at all, let alone enough to make a sign for such a lame song is a bridge I just can’t cross…yet.
So I go into another tour, excited to see all of my favorites, hopeful to see some breakouts and some new stuff and wait to see a song that only matters to one person in the arena, me. If you’re at Alpine Valley and My Sweet One gets played, look for the guy who is going a little too crazy for a pretty lame song. That will be me, feel free to say hi and try not to show too much condescension.