Vocals: Trey (lead), Mike and Page (backing)
Historian: Martin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty)
Last Update: 2013-12-20
At first listen, that being the Round Room version and/or its strikingly similar televised first Live (from New York…it’s Saturday Night) performance, “46 Days” appeared to be a chugging funk-rock stomp in the vein of “Character Zero.” Strikingly similar to “Sneakin’ Sally” in terms of structure and progression, it was seemingly nothing more than a tight, guitar-driven set closer with very little room for improvisational expansion. But as Phish proves over and over, you can’t judge a book by its cover.
Between the surprisingly colossal second set opening Hampton (1/2/03) rendition and the IT (8/3/03) version that seemed to last about 46 Days, Phish 2020 rather infrequently steered this interstellar quantum-tunneling rock bulldozer into regions of jam space that had previously avoided regrading and wormhole emplacement. The passage through the tear in the fabric of space-time united by these two neutron star dense endpoints is rather pedestrian by comparison; however the versions played on 2/25/03 Philadelphia, 7/10/03 Shoreline and 7/21/03 (Deer Creek, which slid out of “Taste” (the fear) and into the freezer) further expanded the song’s versatility.
In 2004 the only particularily noteworthy version of "46 Days" was played by request ("give it to me!") during the second set of the first night (6/17/04) at KeySpan Park. It was down and away, got launched into deep left field, rounded the bass, and then slid back into the plate in a cloud of dust. "46 Days" came around several times with TAB (5/8/05, 5/13/05) and with Trey and Phil Lesh at Vegoose (10/28/06).
In 2009 "46 Days" strayed from a subtle (as a lead pipe to the skull) first set Jersey stomp on 6/7/09 in Camden, to a bluesy southern drawl in the glory daze of post-Boss Bonnaroo on 6/14/09, ultimately disintegrating entirely on 8/15/09 at Merriweather in glorious deep space exploration that never attempted to come back home. 2010 saw "46 Days" in its most frequent setlist rotation to date, including notable offerings on 6/22/10 Great Woods, 8/7/10 Berkeley and 10/19/10 Augusta.
The lyrics of “46 Days” appear to be inspired by an undisclosed incidence of betrayal involving Phish lighting crew member Leigh Fordham (who was previously in the spotlight during the 11/16/96 Omaha performances of both “Axilla” and “Harry Hood”). Details are sketchy at best, but the enigmatic episode allegedly involved the chartering of a boat toward an unknown location somewhere south of the border. Further clues as to what actually did or did not go down, as the song also states, couldn’t be found. One way or another, on the 47th day, the coal, which had apparently run out, came home. The final warning of the devil’s approach makes reference to a passage from the New Testament (John 14:30) in which Jesus informs his apostles of his impending demise as precipitated by his own betrayal by Judas. Not so coincidentally, considering this biblical reference contained in the song, the duration of the Lenten period from midnight on Mardi Gras to the Easter morning celebration of Jesus’ resurrection is exactly 46 days.