a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation

Performances Song History Lyrics


Music/Lyrics: Anastasio/Marshall

Vocals: Trey

Albums: Hampton Comes Alive, Farmhouse, Live Phish 03, Live Phish 16

Debut: 1998-10-17

Historian: Martin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty)

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 for the most part 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" – 10/20/98Sessions at West 54th, New York, NY

“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 an edition of PBS’s Sessions at West 54th (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 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 (3/31/01).

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

"Driver" remains in light rotation with TAB, played about once a tour in its 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. 

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, and during the acoustic set at Festival 8 on 11/1/09. Apparently "Driver" may have too much on his plate, as it was dropped from rotation in 2010.

"Driver" – 11/1/09, Indio, CA

Submit notes/corrections

Recommended Versions: 1998-11-20, 2003-02-20, 2009-11-01

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ChairmanLeo Reply
I sing my baby to sleep every night with this song. My family and neighbors thank you for it every time. :)
Score: 1
curbsidebc Reply
does anyone have the studio version of this?
Score: 0
fry1077 Reply
fry1077 I always thought this song sounded like a jingle for a Folgers commercial. "like this morning when I woke up and put some Folgers in my cup..." or something like that.
Score: 0
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