A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing
Also Known As: ASIHTOS
Music/Lyrics: Anastasio, Marshall
Vocals: Trey (lead), Page and Fish (backing)
Historian: Martin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty)
Last Update: 2011-07-08
Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by its oceans. This vast expanse of water is unquestionably the biggest mystery that remains on the planet. For most of us, our understanding of the ocean is based upon our experiences at the beach, aboard a luxury ocean liner island hopping cruise, or a near shore "deep-sea" fishing charter. In each of these cases the experience is relatively "safe" with dry land never more than a few hours away. Our knowledge of the ocean is restricted to its fringe alone; that small portion which swashes against the terra firma upon which we dwell. As awe-inspiring as these continental shelf experiences may be, nothing can compare to what unfolds when a mariner gets really out there in the wild blue yonder of the abyssal plains. The blue water sailor knows a different ocean and has heard it sing another song entirely. Plaintive voices beckon from the deep, angry snarls thrash against the hull, time ceases to exist. In a few heartbeats a violent tempest that threatens to splinter and drown in the darkness can dissolve into a mercuric mirror of stillness and sunrise.
"A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing" – 7/3/11, Watkins Glen, NY
The Undermind album version of "A Song I Heard The Ocean Sing" captures quite well the rythmic swell and crash of waves against a vessel's hull. The lyrics evoke images of the noctiluca shining light in darkness deep, the timeless questions that go unanswered on the tide during a solitary night watch, and the howl of the wind in the rigging as you collapse into your bunk when it is finally your turn to sleep.
But for a momentary foray into deeper water, the show opening maiden voyage of "ASIHTOS" at KeySpan Park (6/17/04) alee of Coney Island stayed safely close to the album version's shores. Not so for the second set opening cruise which disembarked from the bubbling springs of Saratoga (6/19/04) down river to the Atlantic's Hudson Shelf canyon and an epic encounter with a monster sea worm. A much tamer version of this pairing with "Piper" resurfaced for the final 2004 "ASIHTOS" performance at the amphitheater formerly known as Great Woods (8/10/04). A nautical theme pervaded the 2009 appearances as "ASIHTOS" swirled out of the Knoxville (6/10/09) "Waves," and subsequently got "Drowned" in Deer Creek (6/19/09). After a 75-gig absence the song was next called up on 10/26/10 in Manchester, NH. An unfinished version on 7/3/11 anchored a thrilling first set on the last day of SBIX.
The song I heard the northern Pacific Ocean sing is one I shall never forget. But I could say the same for pretty much any version of "ASIHTOS" Phish has played. In either case I look forward to running away to hear what sounds the other oceans have to offer my buccaneers.
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Martin - your write-ups always elucidate that unknown known present in The Phish's ditties, but I must say this particular entry provides a most profound exegesis. I have had the privilege of hearing ASIHTOS twice of its seven incarnations to date, 2009-06-19 and 2011-07-03, neither of which I shall soon forget.Added a third on 2012-07-01!