The Phish 52: My Left Toe 7/21/99

Let’s see at this rate, I will complete my 52 Phish reviews in “52 weeks” around November, 2023.  I’m shooting for better than that.  Looking back over my daily list of things to do* the word JAM has appeared a great deal over the past 5 weeks, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger.  Mind, to paraphrase Jimmy Greenfield, consigliere of the Chicago Now blogging network, this is not an apology.  I’ve been busy and I’m probably trying to do too much.  White Sox blogging, podcasting, which is really turning into the first among equals of creative projects, looking for extra money, coaching baseball and well you know everyday life stuff.  Yeah, I’ve got a bit going on.  And to be honest, while I did commit to the 52, it isn’t like I’m going to lose my house if I don’t keep to it on a regular basis.  So, let’s recommit.  I have the long window of November 2023, a “short window” of beating George RR Maritn; the remaining 45 reviews before the Winds of Winter is published, and the insanely ambitious, not going to happen goal of one a week until I’m done.  Somewhere between all three of those seems about right.  I also don’t know why, but I really want to beat GRRM.

*Yes, I do a daily to do list, have for years.  Currently it is a two list affair, one side for the actual job, the other for my soul.

So let’s get started with a jam that I did witness, but to be honest almost completely forgot about.  However, when I went back to this show from Star Lake (no corporate naming for me, thanks) I couldn’t believe that this song wasn’t in my heavy rotation of jams, like ever.  That has since changed.  A good spacey, ambient jam is always good, regardless of era.  Let’s get to it, My Left Toe.


The song comes out of a pretty standard Simple, ultimately a nice Mike’s Groove* of Mikes ->Simple -> My Left Toe -> Caspian -> Weekapaug.  The first 4 minutes are ambient music at it’s best.  Trey is playing with tone and melody, Fish is just keeping a steady rhythm and Mike and Paige are barely in the mix.

*As I enter my 22nd year of listening and following Phish, I still get confused about what is and what isn’t Mike’s Groove.  Is it a set song? Is it the grouping of songs between Mike’s and Weekapaug? Would that be more of a suite than a groove? Maybe by year 30 I’ll have it figured out.

3:45~3:50 Trey starts to grind it out a little more, a darker tone has seeped into the sound.  There is a build up going on here, but it is taking its sweet old time.  A slow burner, that’s for sure.

7:15 the build, the tension slows way down.  Knowing what we know now, it almost sounds like Caspian will be starting soon.  Perhaps this change in tempo and tone was a signal of the type, “Hey! When we finally pull out of this, Caspian is where we are going.” Of course that is total conjecture on my part.

7:30 Things start to rebound and by 7:50 Trey is really punctuating matters with sustained notes and feedback.

8:31 Oh, there’s Page! 8:48 Page is finally coming through the haze and adding some great texture to the jam.

9:00 A much more melodic sound has emerged.  It’s not quite the total triumph that I’ve come to almost expect from Phish, but we are looking at the angels at this point, that’s for sure.  It has a very Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday feel to it.   I could just dance and sway to this kind of sound all day.

12:30 things start to lose shape a little and it becomes kind of a rock anthem, with Trey leading the way and eventually starts to trill like a guitar hero around the 13:40 mark.

~14:00 The true climax of the song has been reached and at 14:42 a distinctive downshift occurs, the end is in sight.  All throughout this song I can’t help but think how great it would be during a long run.  I tend to make an up tempo, jammy kind of playlist for long runs.  Usually 3 or 4 shorter songs then one jam from Phish or the Grateful Dead.  It keeps things exciting and meditative.

Anyway, 15:00 the essential groove of the song is back for a quick coda and it descends nicely toward Caspian.  I’ve always been a fan of Caspian, despite all the hate it has gotten over the years.  There is something about that opening that just nails me in the feels.  Also the nod to CS Lewis doesn’t hurt.  I like my bands to be literary.  See you next time on the Phish 52. (shooting for before two months!)

I finally got my podcast working the way I’d like, so if you’d like to hear some US History presented in a lively, fun way, check it out! (warning! the first two episodes audio is not good, but by episode three, I got it!) Episode 30 is up! Get Your History On! Oh and you can get it on iTunes too!

 Get Your History On


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