Music/Lyrics: Neil Young
Vocals: Trey, Page (3/18/97 & 7/31/97); Fish (3/1/89)
Original Artist: Neil Young
Original Album: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969)
“Cinnamon Girl” is the first track on Neil Young’s second solo album (and his first with Crazy Horse), Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, and one of his best-known songs. In the liner notes to his greatest hits compilation, Decade, Neil describes the origins of the song, explaining, “Wrote this for a city girl on peeling pavement coming at me thru Phil Ochs eyes playing finger cymbals. It was hard to explain to my wife.” As if writing such an iconic song wasn’t an impressive enough accomplishment, Neil further reveals in the Decade liner notes that “Cinnamon Girl” was written on the same day as “Down By the River” and “Cowgirl in the Sand" – all while running a 103 degree fever. Not a bad day’s work. (On the subject of songwriting three-fers, Robert Hunter claims to have written the words to “Ripple”, “Brokedown Palace” and “To Lay Me Down” in one day, aided by a case of retsina wine, and Trey wrote the music to “Dog Faced Boy”, “Gumbo” and “Tube” in one day in an indeterminate state; how these feats compare in the songwriting pantheon is left to the reader.)
For years, fans thought that version of “Cinnamon Girl” that opened the Waterwheel benefit show at The Flynn Theatre on 3/18/97 was the first time Phish performed the song. In fact, it was the first version since the so-called "Little Equipment Gig" at Gallagher's on 3/1/89. The Flynn Theatre rendition was, however, the first time Phish played the song "straight," as the Gallagher's version featured Fish on vocals and trombone. Sadly, recordings do not circulate of the Fishman version and fans wanting to hear Phish play this classic tune will have to make do with either 3/18/97 or the third and final appearance from Shoreline Amphitheatre on 7/31/97. Both 1997 versions were relatively concise, remaining true to the original version.