Despite a mild distaste for mathematics, I have developed a curious interest in the power and symbolism of numbers and their use in ritualistic occult practices, engineering, and their most natural expression in the multivariate artform known as music. The number 555 is known alternately as the “highest death” and the numerologic symbol for mankind. When the number 555 appears before you it is a sign for a life changing thought or event having just occurred. You may not like it, or you may. Whatever the case, your Spirit Guides are notifying you that a change in your life path direction has just occurred and it is time for you to change too. Move with it, hop on this new train of thoughts. The universe is making changes for you whether you ask for it or not. Allow the rails to unwind before you and travel to a new future full of possibilities still hidden from you at this point of seeing. Hold the vision until you land at the next station.
It is therefore an incredibly powerful moment of numerologic and ritualistic magic that Phish would choose to unveil a song named “555” during their debut of Wingsuit on Halloween 2013 in Atlantic City. Whether that magic was by intent or not, it augured a new change of direction and beckoned us to go along for the ride.
“555” was the funkier of two (“Snow” being the other) new songs from the Gordon and Murawski songwriting duo that were included in the Wingsuit set. The song proper is a “Meaty” slab of classic down-tempo funk that is richly imbued with the essence of some stanky Feat. The lyrics tell the sordid tale of a modern day Dharma Bum looking to bail the switch, avoid the ditch, and safely hitch another ride on The 555. He’s been roughed up and robbed of his water and cash, he wants them back but he really ought to just dash. The outro, consisting of a jam snippet that is at once “Tweezer Reprise,” a portion of the 8/19/12 “Light” jam, and Pink Floyd’s “Empty Spaces,” bespeaks an ominous conclusion to the train-hopper’s tale. Hopefully not the case for the rumbling freight train that was his ticket out of town. The triple nickel, a.k.a. the NS-555 (subsequently renumbered as NS-3555 in September 2013), is one of the 43 currently active 3,200 horsepower diesel locomotives operated by the Norfolk Southern railroad corporation. Based on the song’s debut it has the same potential to haul a heavy load deep into the heart of the netherworlds of jam space.