Dog Faced Boy
Music/Lyrics: Jon "Greasy Fizeek" Fishman/Anastasio/Marshall/McConnell
Vocals: Trey (lead), Mike, Page (backing)
Historian: Martin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty)
Last Update: 2016-02-27
Coming to terms with a lost love is never easy. Typically, if closure on the relationship is to be achieved, honest remorse for the actions that precipitated the split should be expressed. “Dog Faced Boy” is such an apology.
The Hoist studio version consists of a plaintive acoustic melody picked out by a lonesome cowboy singing his cheating heart out to the gal from his rodeo circus clown past. He has neither the time nor the patience for the dog-faced and worm-infested carnival freaks of their past, would scarcely give up a lungful of air for a dying man, but would do anything to make things right for her. He done her wrong and it makes him feel sad. She deserved better and he wishes he could have always been it. In recapitulation of the past he hopes to build for himself a brighter future... if only she could accept the apology.
"Dog Faced Boy" – 6/9/09, Asheville, NC
“Dog Faced Boy” debuted at New York's Beacon Theater on 4/14/94 in its sparse, acoustic, Hoist-like form. The song was played frequently throughout 1994, alternating between this un-amplified acoustic version and an equally low-key electric rendition, depending on its placement in the setlist. During many of these 1994 acoustic performances, Fishman was featured in an “Emotion Solo,” wherein he sported an appropriate dog-faced look of despair. On at least one occasion (10/16/94, Chattanooga, TN), Fishman’s “Emotion Solo” included a balloon.
In keeping with the lyrics of the song, Phish has spared less and less time for the “Dog Faced Boy,” as he appeared only a handful of times during 1995 and only once or twice a year since then. Notable performances of the song include the 6/16/95 Walnut Creek show where Fishman false-started “Split Open and Melt” three times as an intro; an a cappella version in the midst of the epic 11/14/95 Orlando “Stash;” a whimpering pooch in a (reserved until “Squirming Coil”) four song encore at the Bi-Lo Center on 11/18/98; the paisley-coated “Dog Faced Boy” ejected from the swirling maw of “Piper” the red, red, worm-girl of Cumberland County on 12/8/99; the super blue and grassy version in a “Harry Hood” sandwich at the Am-South Pavilion, in Antioch, TN on 6/22/00; and as a softly panting hound between “Carini” and “Round Room” at the Gorge Amphitheatre on 7/13/03. By far the most painful version was the heartbreaking hound that pleaded for forgiveness on 8/10/04. The 6/9/09 version found the practical joke and good humor restored and included an introduction by Trey explaining the origin of the song's lyrics (Fish's journal).
With the exception of the late second set 8/12/10 Deer Creek effort, all six of the reconciliation era performances have made their appearance during the first sets of “bust out” shows, wherein “Dog Faced Boy” is one of a number of songs that are resolving noteworthy setlist absences. These include the aforementioned Asheville and Deer Creek shows with “Lengthwise” filling a 233 show gap and “Buffalo Bill” and “Kung” filling 81 and 88 show gaps, respectively; 10/15/10 North Charleston with “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home?” filling a 95 show gap; 6/8/11 Darien Lake with “Buffalo Bill” for a third consecutive simultaneous appearance in a show and both closing a 25 show gap; 11/1/14 Las Vegas with “Frankie Says” filling an 87 show gap as “Dog Faced Boy” terminated its own 144 show gap, and 8/11/15 Mann with “Skin it Back” ending a 111 show absence.
In more personal acts of contrition, and hearkening back to 1994, Trey has also performed “Dog Faced Boy” twice as a solo acoustic number while on tour with TAB, on 11/29/05 at the Paramount Theater in Seattle, and on 2/20/11 at the House of Blues in Boston.