Historian: Martin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty)
Last Update: 2016-03-08
There are bodily functions each of us performs perhaps thousands of times each day that thankfully require no thought. Breathing, blinking, the beating of our hearts, digestion, and the growth of hair are all ongoing processes, which are beyond our conscious control. To whom does the responsibility for the steering of these processes fall?
One possible answer to this mystery of life is presented in “Driver,” which debuted at the first night of the Bridge School Benefit at Shoreline on 10/17/98. Unlike the one in each of our heads, the lyrics tell of a driver who has been given far too much responsibility by his host. Rather than controlling only the autonomic responses that would keep the body alive, this driver is charged with the control of walking, talking, making decisions, and even picking out clothes. A clear case of a multiple personality disorder developed in response to the inability to accept responsibility for poor fashion sense.
”Driver” – 10/17/98, Mountain View, CA
“Driver” has often featured Trey on acoustic guitar, including during the acoustic portion of numerous TAB shows in May 1999. This acoustic format also lent itself to studio appearances at a taping of PBS’s Sessions at West 54th on 10/20/98, and a promotional set on Boulder radio station KBCO’s Studio C series on 11/3/98. “Driver” was one of the songs Mike and Trey performed at an open mic night at the now-defunct Dead Goat Saloon in Salt Lake City on 11/1/98. Trey also joined forces with his co-author Tom Marshall for a version of the tune during an Amfibian show at Higher Ground on 3/31/01. “Driver” was in light rotation with TAB, played about once a tour in a solo acoustic format, including on 11/29/05 Seattle; 10/15/06 Asheville, NC; 7/6/08 at the Rothbury Music Festival; and on 2/19/10 in Chicago.
A live performance of “Driver” from 11/20/98 was released on Hampton Comes Alive, and the studio version recorded during the Farmhouse sessions was one of two bonus tracks (“Mountains in the Mist” being the other) released on the Japanese edition of the album. Two other live performances (10/30/98 in Las Vegas and 9/14/00 at Darien Lake) were subsequently released as part of the Live Phish series. Trey and Tom also released their original four-track recording on Trampled by Lambs & Pecked by the Dove.
Upon the band's return to the stage in 2009, ”Driver” was back at the wheel, including performances at Jones Beach on 6/2/09, The Gorge on 8/8/09, during the acoustic set at Festival 8 on 11/1/09, in Albany on 11/27/09, and during the end year Miami run on 12/29/09. “Driver” then went unplayed for a year and a day, making its return on 12/30/10 when Phish moved back to MSG for the NYE run. That version made three in a row that were preceded by “Maze” and initiated a string of three in a row that were all played in the state of New York (including 7/8/12 SPAC and 12/31/12 MSG). The last of these performed in a New York State of Mind found “Driver” in the coveted encore slot of the NYE show, coupled with “Iron Man” to complete the golf-related theme of the NYE gag.
The next and most recent version of “Driver” was inspired by a group of fans who wanted to commemorate the life of Ryan Hoherd, a recently passed friend and relative. According to Ryan’s brother Pete’s request, Ryan felt a deep connection to “Driver,” and Pete and a group of their friends wanted everybody to join them in trying to get the band to play it for him during their show at BGCA on 8/3/13. The band of course complied with the request most graciously.
"Driver" – 11/1/09, Indio, CA