Phish Song Rankings: As of Pittsburgh Summer 2017

Yeah, I’m behind a little bit, I know the main entree is donuts and I’ll get there soon, never fear. Writing on the weekends has become much more of a chore than it ever was. Between housework, getting kids ready for camp, other commitments, plopping down and writing a blog or two and a podcast script just is a hill I’m not ready to climb.

The last two shows before the residency offered some great stuff. The internet is all a buzz about the second set from Dayton and I’ve seen nothing but positives about Pittsburgh as well. These five warm-up shows toward New York have demonstrated that the band is ready to get it going during the Baker’s Dozen.

On the numbers side of things, Runaway Jim reached 375 performances. There’s still a ways to go before 400, but it might happen sooner rather than later. Rocky Top hit 200 performances and secured a spot in the Top 50 as well. Punch You In The Eye reached 150 and Halley’s Comet 125. Those are a couple of pretty old songs and yet they’ve only been played 275 times collectively. It just further demonstrates the diversity of Phish’s playlists and evolution. In just these two shows, Phish debuted three songs. Between new songs and new covers, why rely on old standards? As an audience, we’ve demonstrated pretty thoroughly that we like the shock of the new. I’ve got a feeling before it’s all over, the Baker’s Dozen will substantially add to the ever growing list of songs Phish has played. We’ll see. The Top Twenty:

1   You Enjoy Myself – 578
2    Possum – 517
3    Mike’s Song – 491
4   Weekapaug Groove – 460
5   Bouncing Around the Room – 459
6    Golgi Apparatus – 456
7    Chalk Dust Torture – 454
8   Run Like an Antelope – 442
8    Cavern – 442
10   David Bowie – 441
11   Suzy Greenberg – 418
12   Stash – 411
12   Divided Sky – 411
14   Runaway Jim – 375 375 plays!
15   Reba – 374
16   Harry Hood – 368
17   Tweezer – 357
18   The Squirming Coil – 349
19   Foam – 344
20   I Am Hydrogen – 335

The Phish 52: 12/30/93 David Bowie

Oh dear.  I don’t like this new feature on the admin page here on WordPress.  It is a little calendar that shades the days that you posted.  Eek. I went 0 of February here at the Lazy blog.  Which puts me a bit behind on the 52 as well.  Jesus, how do people with a full-time job, family and other interests stay so consistent?  Just not my bag I suppose.  Even so, pressing on!

For this installment, I decided to go with a show that I did not attend and also an older show once again.  A pretty old show by my standards.  Basically I came to Phish in the fall of 1993, didn’t attend my first show until summer of 1994.  For the most part, I don’t really venture much further back than 1994 in my live recordings.  I know there is some great stuff back there, but it’s just not mine, you know what I mean.

So, I was working in a cafe and this guy brings Rift into the shop to listen to while we work.  It was such a great perk of working at an indie cafe, we could choose pretty much whatever we wanted to play.  Anyway, I’d never heard of Phish, but we were all pretty tolerant of each other’s music, so on it went.

I can’t say I was blown away, but I was definitely interested.  I particularly liked how the concept album and guitar style reminded me of Steve Hackett and Genesis.  The keyboards were a great touch too.  I was willing to check out more.

The same friend told me to really “get” Phish I needed to see them live, or at least listen to some live tapes.  I also started lurking on rec.music.phish and realized that the band allowed taping at shows, so getting a live tape was pretty easy.  I was still pretty internet-shy, so I went to a local head shop that spun tapes for free and asked for the show I saw some buzz about, 12/30/93.  No, it wasn’t the New Year’s Show, but that seemed like a big commitment.  So a two set show seemed right.  It started with David Bowie.  I wasn’t quite hooked yet, but I was on the line.

Bowie

I’m pretty sure that I hadn’t heard the Junta version of Bowie at this point, so everything was new.  As the intro played, I didn’t know what to expect, but after 1:33, the Bowie groove got started and I was immediately into it.

2:03 The lyrics kick in and I think with a song like Bowie and being new to Phish, things could break one of two ways.  The first way, our way, is to think, “this is weird. I like it.”  The second way, the way pretty much everyone I know in a professional/social way with the exception of fellow fans is, “David Bowie? This is stupid.” click.

I didn’t tune out and was awarded by the amazing composed section of the song that comes next. At 3:00 the spiraling down that then kicks back to the lyrical portion is still one of my favorite Phish composed bits.

After the second lyrical break (UB40? ok, 80s reference. I like these guys) The composition isn’t quite the same as last time and instead of coming back for more lyrics at 5:08 there is a great break in the song.

The song goes into a very subtle, mellow feel but at 5:20 a thirty second quote from a classic rock anthem, Dream On, gets tossed out.  It’s more than a tease, at least I would call it more than a tease.  Also as someone who by this point in my musical fandom was well versed in the classics, it made me feel intimately connected to the band. A shared musical history that we shared.  We were reading from the book, sharing the same experience.

At 5:53, they return the Bowie sound proper and by 6:33 they start to rev things up a bit.  It’s a great example of the tension and release that I think we all can appreciate.

7:09 The pace really gets going.  No one is particularly dominant at this point, a very strong group jam. It was a phenomena that I wasn’t quite used to at that point.

8:03 Trey starts to pull out in front a little more, making it a little more familiar to me.  The pace and speed of the playing isn’t quite as familiar to me though.  It seems to have a point, a destination.  Unlike the heavy metal of my youth, it isn’t speed for speed’s sake.  This guy Trey and the band have got more up their sleeves.

9:02 An explosion! The payoff.  I wouldn’t say Trey is shredding and eventually starts to play around with tone. A controlled style of chaos ensues.

10:37 The now familiar Bowie wind up starts. It isn’t exactly the same as the beginning of the song, but familiar enough to make one say, “oh yeah, we’re still in this space.” At 11:00 there is a final burst and then quick release back to “Dream On” also reminding us of the uniqueness of this song. We’re not going to hear another one like it. Because of that fact, and of course many others, I was happily being reeled in for the next 20+ years.

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 27 is up! Get Your History On! Oh and you can get it on iTunes too!

 Get Your History On

The Architect

“I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows. And I’m much more a gardener than an architect.” — George RR Martin

I’ve always liked this quote from GRRM.  He along with Stephen King share similar ideas about writing.  King is much more demanding, pretty much dismissing planning a story at all.  Considering King, Martin and quite a few other writers that I love all talk about letting stories grow, seeing where they go and the like, I figured that was the only way to do it. Or at least the only way to do it well.  I even started, or at least tried that “let it grow” method here at Kaufmak’s.  I still haven’t worked up the courage to show the world what that looks like. However, a funny thing happened on the way to writing something new. I got inspiration and validation all from reading a book.

First to come clean.  If not squeaky clean, at least washed behind the ears.  Ok, here goes: I’m writing a screenplay. Just putting that out here is liberating and nerve wracking all in one swoop.  I’m not ready to divulge all of the details just yet, but I’m almost 50 pages in so I’m pretty sure I’m going to, at the minimum, finish a draft.  I’m also going for it as it were. I know the odds of any screenplay getting read, let alone optioned, let alone produced are slim at best.  But why the hell not give it the full go? Another lesson from that aforementioned book.

So, the book? It is a book I first picked up back in the 1990s (which gives you some idea of how long I’ve thought about doing this sort of thing), maybe a decade or so after it was first published.  It is called Screenplay by Syd Field.  It’s been updated a number of times, but the main body of it has remained the same. The great thing about the book is that for the first time ever reading about writing, the idea of being an architect, of planning things out, was wholly embraced.  Field goes so far as to insist that you plan out a screenplay, otherwise you’ll never finish.

For me, that idea was so freeing. I think it is the extensive background in academics, history specifically, has made planning in writing second nature.  Trying to be a gardener just didn’t work.  Also, and probably why I like history and also kind of how I write, I like to have a plan. Furthermore, when I come up with an idea, it usually isn’t a “what if?” kind of scenario, but is much more formed if that makes any sense.  I not only see the beginning, but a good bit of the middle and usually the end.

Which is exactly what Field preached*.  He talks about paradigms and outlines; notecards and markers; know the beginning, plot points and the end. So many of the ideas, those very tools are the same ones I’ve been using my entire writing career. So as I got through my research (which, get this?! Field also finds essential to writing!) I was reading Screenplay and nodding my head all the way.  I finally found my instruction manual.

*I’m sorry to say preached, Syd Field passed away a couple of years ago. I am truly saddened by this. Even if I find no success in this, I’ve gained so much from his book. As I said it liberated me, validated me. I would have loved to attend one of his seminars. He seemed like a very good teacher. He wrote in Screenlay about dreaming, about having a full time job and the realities of life.  Again, things I deal with in all my writing. I never met him, but I will miss him.

#Easterishere!

And that is that. Made it through Lent with my fasts mostly intact.  I must admit I stumbled a few times, once when there was some awesome bread left over in the kitchenette and once on Twitter when a kerfuffle went down with a couple of my favorite radio hosts.  As you might guess, I wasn’t particularly pleased with myself in either case, but overall, all areas were a good exercise.  Did it strengthen or inform my faith? Not that much I suppose, but that might be asking a lot of the absence of Twitter and Facebook.

What I’ve found surprising a week or so back to social media is how low my threshold has become for stuff I don’t particularly want to read, especially on Twitter. Rejoining Twitter and baseball coming back coincided quite nicely, but when I signed in and started reading through my time line, there was a huge bitchfest going on regarding the strike zone, led mostly by Joe Sheehan. I get it, good calls, accuracy, blah, blah, blah. It was the first game of the year, can’t we just enjoy baseball for baseball? At some point the constant critique just becomes more noise to filter out.  Which is what I did. I turned off my phone and just watched the game. No, I don’t think statistics have ruined the game, or Twitter is ruining the game. Nothing is ruining the game. Sometimes the over analysis is ruining the experience.  What’s more, I really agree with Nick Hornby when he wrote:

I don’t want my children growing up in a world where refereeing mistakes have been eliminated. Kids have already spent too much time being told by broadcasters that professional sport is deadly serious, that the teams and players are at war.  I grew up watching fat players and slow players whose first touch took it farther than I could kick it; I watched a lot of drunk players too…They’ve all gone now, and the game is, of course better for it, faster more athletic and more technically accomplished. But it really isn’t as funny and if we are denied the chance to see goals like the one Juan Mata didn’t score, it will be less funny still.

As far as Facebook goes, I’m pretty much where I was before Lent began. It’s nice to catch up with old friends and hear how family members are doing around the country.  Other than that, I don’t do much on Facebook. I don’t take quizzes, rarely click on links, or play any games.  I’ve seen the screeds from time to time of people getting pissed about being asked to play games. I’m not that committed to my Facebook feed.  I just scroll on through.

Like the last few Lents, the practice of season has had a lasting impact. It has altered my behavior in a positive way. After 40 days, I’m pretty sure I’ll be spending less time on social media going forward. Does it translate to more spiritual and religious behavior? probably not. I have found however, (this week not included) that I’m more productive, especially when it comes to writing. While not religious per se I do feel that when I’m writing, really getting to it every day or so, I’m acting in accordance with God’s will. Writing is what lights my soul, it’s what I would do (and in fact do!) for no money. I’m not sure if this message is what was intended from Lent, but it’s a good lesson all the same. Happy Easter everybody!

 

Lent Half Way Point: Laetare Sunday

Laetare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam

Jesusgolfing

We Catholics often get a bum rap about having a rigid religion, from inside and outside the membership.  If you want to project a stern religious environment, there are few stock characters as reliable as the strict nun.  Also, thanks to the United States Council of Catholic Bishops, American Catholicism is often out of step with the rest of the world, including Pope Francis.  Catholicism is often associated with a cultural conservatism and rigidity that undermine some of the more interesting and human aspects of the Church.

Take Laetare Sunday, a most Roman Catholic notion.  Basically it is the half way point through lent and it is meant to be a time of celebration, or to use the Latin translation: Rejoice!  While Sundays during Lent are not part of the 40 days of observance, the intention of Laetare is to pretty much take it to that next level.  Think about that for a second.  In the middle of this period of fasting, penance, reflection and alms giving, we have set aside a day to not just ease up on our practices, which Sundays are for, but to, in fact, rejoice.  I don’t know about you, but rejoice has a pretty powerful connotation.  It’s more than just an extra donut on Sunday.  I don’t know if it goes all the way to a Carnival kind of level, but pretty close.  If I were to put a song to it, or a moment it would be something akin to that release of joy when the game winning hit is struck, or more long lasting when Phish have built up an amazing jam, and then releasing it at that right moment and the entire crowd cheers.  It is that euphoria of the moment, but then that joyous time after, that afterglow.

I’ll admit, mostly because of my wife giving me grief about it, I pretty much keep up with my Lenten practices on Sundays, the consequences of being a pastor’s kid I suppose.  What’s funny is that I haven’t really missed my social media outlets even on Sundays.  There have been a few times that I’ve had a quip or seen something I wanted to share, but the daily (in twitter’s case, constant) checking of sites has not been a missed chore.  As a matter of fact, this past Laetare Sunday, when I was rejoicing in an absolutely fabulous way by playing golf, I actually missed mass.  Not just missed it because I was golfing, but missed it as an experience.  With the kids in CCD, I tend to get to mass much more frequently and since the turn of the year, we’ve been going pretty regularly.  It’s gotten back to routine and during Lent I’ve been particularly enjoying it.  I don’t regret golfing, not by a long shot, but I wish I could have added to a joyful day by attending the celebration in church.  Something to remember come next year.

 

Apple: Think Boring

When I see the Apple ads recently and they are either quoting Dead Poet’s Society (1989) or redoing an ad they did with U2 (product of the 80s no less) in 2004, I can’t help but think, “When did Apple become the old?”  What’s more, when did Apple become synonymous with reactionary?  It doesn’t feel that long ago that Apple was producing the products that made me go ooh and ahh.  I know that Steve Jobs was an inspirational leader and a visionary, at the very least in his ability to make planned obsolescence seem cool.  But since his death, nothing that has come from Apple is all that inspiring or alluring.  Was all of that innovation, new product mojo all brought to the table by one guy?  If so, Apple is doomed.

 

apple

 

In Apple’s history there have been missteps, the Newton springs to mind.  But since the iPod they always hit the right notes, iPhone, iPad, even AppleTV seems to have a dedicated audience.  However, since Steve Jobs died, the products that have been exciting haven’t been coming from Apple.  The smart watch, the larger smart phone and the more adaptable pad all have come from Apple’s competitors.  I’m sure plenty of Apple aficionados can tell me why the Samsung watch isn’t that good or that the Surface from Microsoft isn’t worth the money, but that is so much inside baseball.  Even if the products aren’t as good as the Apple responses (and what is the Apple response to the Surface? the Mac Air? meh.) those products are the more attractive.

It’s fair to say that I’m getting pulled by the power of good ad campaigns, and I suppose that is fair.  However, it was Apple who once made those hip ads that inspired my curiosity and seek out the new products.  Now, nothing from Apple is new.  the iPhone is on its sixth generation.  I can’t think of anything besides Harry Potter that I was excited about by the sixth installment.  Even more, Apple’s roll out of various new items and OS has been riddled with glitches and snafus, if not just a tone deafness that had been more associated with other tech companies.

It comes back to Apple and its partnership with U2.  It feels like a sad attempt to appear young and hip, and bringing out a dinosaur, kind of like being told as a kid how great Elvis was; sure he was super famous, but he was an old man in a jump suit, just not my thing.  Even though I’m at the heart of U2’s demographic, I can’t imagine I was who Apple was trying to get.  Instead, Apple and U2 are the object of ridicule from younger folks and they have reminded me that I’m getting old.  Good job Apple, one side of the divide thinks you’re lame and the other is pissed that you’ve pointed out my combover.

Review: The Battle of the Labyrinth

The Battle of the Labyrinth
The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Did this one on audio with the kids and it is a solid three star. The audio version really deserves only two stars because Jesse Bernstein is almost unbearable. His voice in general isn’t very pleasant and when he tried to do other voices for effect it was downright terrible.

Anyway, as far as the story goes, Percy has another quest to go on to save the world, stop the titans, and figure out being a teenager. Yes, it is remarkably derivative of Harry Potter, but still entertaining. I’m hooked enough to see how it all pans out and for a book solely read for enjoyment, that is enough.

View all my reviews