Song Histories, lyrics, and more!
With pride, drummer Jon Fishman explains the level of success that his quirky, experimental roots-rock quartet has achieved: "We've reached the point where it's cool to hate us." As you might expect from this eclectic band, such a metric speaks louder than the legions of Phish fans that follow the quartet from town to town.
Cowriter Richard Gehr describes this enlightening book as "a studio edit of Phish in real-time conversation." Along with Fishman, Page McConnell, Mike Gordon, and Trey Anastasio are revealed in their own words, the result of a spate of interviews conducted by Gehr between 1996's New Year's Eve show at Boston's Fleet Center and 1997's year-end Madison Square Garden run. Much like a Phish show, the conversation rambles back and forth, and the complete portrait of the band only emerges subtly and indirectly, although it certainly does emerge. Most rewarding is when they discuss the process of performing and creating music. They describe "onstage love affairs" between two of the four, and how certain members basically ignored others for years at a time and then finally "discovered" them after a decade of playing together. Some may be happy to know that even Phish own up to the unevenness (read: boredom) of some of their extended musical journeys.
In many ways, The Phish Book serves as a gift to die-hard fans, often diving into some of the band's more esoteric mythology: the origins of songs and lyrics, the various recording processes, the Dude of Life, and so on. The treasure-trove of photos includes shots of bars and stadiums, onstage and backstage, giant flying hot dogs, fans clothed and not, Fishman clothed and not. But the uninitiated can gain much-needed perspective from this enjoyable book as well. They'll learn how Phish find a connection between all styles of music, and use this connection (implied or otherwise) to inform their own music. And they might be surprised to discover how much substance there is behind the twirling fans and endless jams. --Marc Greilsamer
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