Vermont is one of the most beautiful places in the United States. The Fall season is spetacular. Vermont is known for great maple syrup, plentiful apples, ski resorts and one of the most legendary rock bands of all time. In 1983, guitar players Trey Anastasio, and Jeff Holdsworth, bassist Mike Gordon and drummer Jon Fishman formed the group we now all know as Phish. Two years after the band formed, keyboardist Page McConnell joined the group. With the exception of the departure of Jeff Holdsworth in 1986, Phish has gone through no other lineup changes.
Our Top 10 Phish songs list attempts to present 10 Phish songs from the band’s entire career in an attempt to both celebrate the group’s contributions to classic rock history and to also serve as a starting point for new fans who are unfamiliar with the band. In the end, its almost impossible to pick just ten songs from a band who has released sixteen studio albums, fifteen live albums and about fifty independent live releases. The band’s massive output of live materiel simply defines just how important the band’s legacy has been showcased as a jam band. Yet, the term jam band does not sit well with many because it seems to define a group just jamming on various chord progressions. All the great Phish songs the group has been known to jam on are for the most part well structured pieces of music that have served as an inspiration for an entire new generation of rock groups much like The Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers had done for the generation of bands that came after those groups. In order to showcase the band’s talents as composers as well as instrumentalists, we decided to stick with studio versions of all these great Phish Songs. A live top 10 is probably really an impossible feat. There’s just too many recordings.
# 10 – Free
We open up our Top 10 Phish Songs list with a great track entitled “Free.” The song was released on the band’s Billy Breathless album. The record was released in 1996. The song “Free,” served as the album’s opening track. The song was also released as the first single from the record. “Free,” would become one of the band’s most successful commercial songs. It just missed the Billboard’s Top 10 Rock Tracks peaking at number eleven in 1996.
# 9 – Heavy Things
Continuing with our top 10 Phish songs list we turn to the very cool song “Heavy Things.” We have always just loved the groove on this one. It’s the type of song you just want to kick back to and sway with if you know what I mean. Even the guitar solo has that laid back tasty style of jamming that just makes you feel good. This one feels like the 1960s. The song was released on the Farmhouse album in 2000. It’s the only Phish song to reach the Billboard Mainstream Top 40.
# 8 – The Connection
In the same fashion as “Heavy Things,” the song “The Connection,” has that same laid back groove with an even more pop sensibility. This one sounds more like early 1970’s music along the lines of The Eagles and Jackson Browne. And we dig it. No wait, we mean it’s mint!
# 7 – Bathtub Gin
The Phish song “Bathtub Gin”also known to Phish fans as just “Gin,” was released on the Phish album entitled Lawn Boy. The album was originally released in 1990 and then reissued in 1992 on Electra Records. When I first heard this I felt like the group sounded somewhere in between Frank Zappa and The Grateful Dead. I think many fans felt the same way. Early on the band was defying just how original they were and would continue to be so during their long fabulous career.
# 6 – Fluffhead / Fluff’s Travels
Talking about making their mark early on. This amazing pice of music gave music fans 15 minutes of pure joy. This magical piece starts out in Grateful Dead type of vain and then takes of on a musical journey you never would have expected. Any one whip hears this for the first time is pretty much won over by the band rather easily. The Fluffhead Suite was released on the band’s first independently self released album in 1989 entitled Junta.
# 5 – Simple
This is one of the great Phish songs that never appeared on a studio album, yet has become one of the band’s most loved songs. There are so many live versions of this song. The one we have picked to present this classic was recorded on July 22nd 2015 at the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend, Oregon.
# 4 – The Divided Sky
Once again we turn back to the band’s first album entitled Junta. There were so many songs from the album that have become Phish classics. We tried hard to pick songs from across the band’s long career, but these songs have become so ingrained in Phish culture we just had to present them on this Phish songs list.
# 3 – Reba
As we get closer to the number one spot on our top 10 Phish songs list, its just keeps getting tougher to not leave out any of the legendary Phish songs. This is one of them. The classic Phish song Reba was released on the band’s Lawn Boy album. The guitar solo alone is worth the price of admission.
# 2 – You Enjoy Myself
We could not compose an essential Phish songs list and leave this one out. The legendary Phish song “You Enjoy Myself.” is supposedly the most performed song of the band’s career. The song was released on the band’s debut album entitled Junta. The album was released in 1989. This long musical piece never stops staying interesting as it twists and turns its way through various musical changes making this one a long time fan favorite.
# 1 – Tweezer
We close out our top 10 Phish songs list with the great track “Tweezer.” The song was released on the band’s third album entitled A Picture of Nectar. The album was released in 1992. The song has been released many times on several live albums in much longer versions because for the most part Tweezer is always a highlight of any Phish show Nonetheless we have always loved the studio version of this classic song. That bass line has become so iconic. The guitar solos at the end that dance between modes are so incredibly addicting, it just keeps getting better and better and better and ……..