Vocals: Mike, Page, Trey
Historian: Ellis Godard
Last Update: 2011-07-04
"Destiny Unbound" is about a road-tripping duo, Bill and Jill, who find that the road isn't paved. But the certainty and promise of the title belies the song’s wavering history, disappearance, and uncertain returns.
The song first surfaced in several “out there” shows, such as 2/7/91 (also including the debut of “Tweezer Reprise” and yet another “Lizards” lyrics flub by Trey) and 4/11/91 (known mostly for the “Prison Joke” in the encore, but laudable throughout for song selection and conviction). It was reworked several times (compare 9/14/90, 2/14/91, and 4/19/91) and finally found a home in the solid grooves of the fall tour of 1991, following “Landlady” for all nine appearances (and subsequently disappeared for nearly ten years). Although the song itself is bouncy but heavily scripted, it often served as a launching pad for improvisation, followed by tunes such as “Harry Hood,” “You Enjoy Myself,” and “Mike’s Song”.
"Destiny Unbound" – 2/14/91, Ithaca, NY
While the connection (musically, rhythmically, lyrically, or otherwise) is unclear, one of the members of Phish apparently thinks “Destiny Unbound” sounds too much like a Grateful Dead tune. As such, it had become the ultimate rarity, not played for 796 shows and by far the most talked about “bring it back!” tune among fans for more than a decade. Trey joked that Phish would perform the tune when, upon the band coming to stage, the entire audience sang the first verse in unison. Though the band did acknowledge an attempt 11/22/97 – Trey said it resembled a "cannibalistic death chant" – several valiant efforts by front rows were to no avail and it became somewhat accepted that the song’s destiny was to remain in our memories and recordings.
The first hint in almost a decade that “Destiny” was still in the realm of the possible was on 4/11/01: During a performance by Col. Bruce Hampton and the Codetalkers with Mike sitting in, “Destiny Unbound” made its first public appearance of any sort in the ten years since 11/15/91. But it would be two more years until Phish played it in full again, as the second tune of 2/28/03 – only one component of what many fans consider the best show of that year – perhaps to exhibit their unpredictability, or perhaps simply to put the popular demand to rest. It has been played several times since, all following the breakup and each time notable mainly because it was played; the destiny may remain unbounded, but the travelers are weary.
"Destiny Unbound" – 5/31/09, Boston, MA