a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation

Performances Song History Lyrics


Music/Lyrics: Anastasio, Marshall, Herman

Vocals: Trey (lead), Mike, Page (backing)

Original Artist: New York!

Albums: Farmhouse, Alpine Valley, Ventura, Lullaby Versions of Phish V2, Amsterdam

Debut: 1997-06-14

Historian: Phillip Zerbo (pzerbo)

Last Update: 2012-07-28

"Dirt" is one of the most simple – and decidedly dark – songs in the Phish repertoire. The sparse lyrics evoke images of death, perhaps suicide; a radical disconnect from love, and life itself. In a typical Anastasio twist, these gloomy lyrics are juxtaposed against “ho-hum, happy-day” whistling. The result is an ethereal beauty that belies the song’s morbid theme of ultimate escape.

"Dirt" – 6/22/97, Koblenz, Germany

Along with “Saw It Again,” “Dirt” made its public debut on 5/21/97 by the one-off band ‘New York!’ at Burlington’s Club Toast. This initial live version is difficult for performers and listeners alike; fans of the song may wish to seek out the Trampled By Lambs or the 6/14/97 Phish debut version to visit the song’s early roots. 

“Dirt” was played most frequently in its debut year (twenty appearances in the six months after its debut alone) and it remained in regular rotation through 2003. Absent from rotation in 2004, "Dirt" returned in Phish 3.0 on 6/4/09 at Jones Beach. A mood piece with no improvisational expansion to date, representative versions can be found in otherwise outstanding shows including 7/1/97, 12/29/97, 10/10/99, 8/1/09 and 8/15/11.

"Dirt" – 6/4/09, Wantagh, NY

Fans of the song will also want to visit Trey’s solo acoustic performances, including 2/15/99 Higher Ground, 11/5/05 Cincinnati, or 2/27/11 Chicago.

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