Daniel Saw the Stone
Vocals: Mike, Page, Trey
Original Artist: Traditional
Albums: Live Phish 07
Historian: Ellis Godard
Instrumentally, Phish's version of “Daniel Saw the Stone” is faithful to the customary, upbeat, bluegrass spiritual. Lyrically, however, they trim the spiritual a bit. For example, they repeat: “Daniel saw the stone” in each chorus, rather than the customary changes (to “Jesus was the stone” and “I found the stone”) without which the (rock of ages, born again) meaning is unclear.
Poetic justice to the song’s originators (who found a home in Jesus), Phish had trouble finding a home for the song in play order – unlike many songs which might be typical openers, typical encores, or typical late-in-second-set meat. Its first three appearances were as a first set closer, a second set opener, and in the middle of a three-song encore. Several solid versions were nestled in the second set, such as after “Purple Rain” and before “Good Times Bad Times.” However, versions did not vary greatly, in accuracy or energy, such that the two memorable versions are not memorable for how they were played at all: 8/21/93 (which featured the Flecktones) and 7/31/93 (which followed the religious lyrics with AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell”). The consistency must have bored the band: After fourteen appearances on the (33-show) summer 1993 tour, including both the first and last nights (7/15 and 8/28), “Daniel” was soundchecked several times on 12/28/93 and then largely slipped away. It appeared 2/23/97 after 288 shows, and again 7/29/03 after 285 shows, though then a mere four shows later, on 8/3/03, where it was the first song of the first set. Someone at IT must have seen the stone, too.
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