The importance of lyricist Tom Marshall in the world of Phish can’t be stressed enough. For his role as Trey’s collaborator in creating so many of the band’s songs, he is seen by many as the fifth member of the band.
Tom’s appearance on the Phish New Year’s Run has become an expected and anticipated treat. On New Year’s Eve in 1993 and 1994, he sang the lines he wrote for “Run Like an Antelope.” He tried his hand at a new number on New Year’s Eve 1995, singing the Collective Soul song “Shine” in the middle of a “Colonel Forbin” narration that showcased the band’s ability to manipulate time.
Then, in 1996, the band continued the trend of using Tom to add humor to the New Year’s Run. During a rousing “Harpua” on 12/29, Trey spoke humorously of “The Uber-Demon” and the “horrible sound of hell.” Marshall came out in time to sing Oasis’ pop music hit “Champagne Supernova.” The band continued this theme in 1997, as Tom sang the hit “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” during yet another “Harpua” narration. During the 1998 New Year’s Run, Tom returned to singing his own lyrics. He aided in the performance of “Grind,” a short original song that was slated for, but cut from, the Billy Breathes album.
Not all of Tom’s appearances have come on the Run, though. In November of 1998, he showed up at the famous Hampton Coliseum and, along with “Geerz” Gerhard, treated the crowd to a hysterical rendition of the Chumbawamba hit “Tubthumping.” Fans can hear this song on the Hampton Comes Alive release. Another crowd favorite was Tom’s rousing rendition of “Born to Run” in Bruce Springsteen’s home state of New Jersey during the summer of 1999. Tom mimicked the Born in the U.S.A.-era Springsteen, complete with bandana, while Springsteen himself was playing only an hour away. That fall, he sang the Who’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” toward the end of the second set on 10/8/99; the number was planned for the encore and he was supposed to appear in costume, but a change in plans led to the song being played earlier and without costume. In 2000, Tom again lent his vocals to his “Antelope” lyrics (7/3/00 and 9/15/00).
Fittingly, Tom figured prominently in the Anniversary Run of Fall 2003. On 11/29/03 in Philadelphia, he emerged to engage in banter about the origins of “Makisupa Policeman” and to sing one of his more rarely performed collaborations with Trey, “Buffalo Bill.” Then, on 12/1/03 in Albany, he added vocals to a memorable “Antelope” that featured original second guitarist Jeff Holdsworth.
Tom also performed with Trey during the acoustic sets of several stops on Trey’s May 1999 solo tour. Those mini-sets, combined with the release of the Trey/Tom demo CD Trampled By Lambs and Pecked by the Dove, led to speculation about a Trey/Tom tour, but that has yet to happen.
Tom is also a musician in his own right: He played with Trey at Taft, from which they both graduated in 1983. As the keyboardist and singer for Amfibian, he leads a band that plays songs he wrote both for Phish and on his own (Trey sat in on 11/18/00 and 3/31/01). The first incarnation of that group, which recorded a version of “The Wedge” released on the Phish tribute album Sharin’ in the Groove: Celebrating the Music of Phish, disbanded in 2001 after existing on and off since 1998. (The core of this band also contributed to Marshall’s album Amfibian Tales.) January 2004 brought word that Tom had put together an entirely new version of Amfibian and recorded an album called From the Ether, which included one song co-written by Trey and Tom. With his typical oddball humor, Tom announced the project on Amfibian’s web site thusly: “If Ween, Sean Lennon and John Tesh dined on tequila and mescaline for an evening in 2004, From the Ether would almost certainly be the dinner music of choice.”
Preface: Tom Marshall (born 11/12/63) is a friend of Trey's from high school, and lyricist or co-writer of many Phish songs, including "Character Zero" and "The Farmhouse". He penned the poem which became "McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters", which became the critical seed for The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday.
Performance: He has appeared on stage on nine known occasions:
Profession: Dan had posted an interview with Tom in which he said he is "sort of a freelance biology professor, between jobs at the moment, but willing to conduct impromptu seminars on the peltate leaf of the pennyroyal at the drop of a hat." Luann Abrahams responded (4/14/97): "Tom's a pretty modest guy, and he'll probably be cross with me for making this public, but people should know the extent of his reach. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Hawaii, Hanapepe, and he's got a doctorate in cremular biology from the University of Leiden. His most recent treatise on the effects of anabolic steroids on the
Participation: Typically, Trey works with Tom's lyrics to produce song. Occassionally, they've worked together -- for instance, spending time together in a farmhouse (which birthed the song "Farmhouse"). But Mike Gordon had this to say (in a jamtv.com interview released 10/30/98) of Ghost:
We were all using Tom's book, of ten years of his writing. I had never picked out lyrics and made up melodies to them from his book before. This was the first time. It had always been just Trey and Tom. So it was a lot more collaborative.
Production: In April 2000, Tom launched a new music production company, Furry Thug Productions.
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