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Performances Song History

Faht

Also Known As: Windham Hell

Music: Fishman

Vocals: Instrumental

Albums: A Picture of Nectar, Sharin' in the Groove

Debut: 1992-11-22

Historian: Ellis Godard, Mark Toscano

Fishman spun this ditty from a few threads of acoustic guitar and a whacked mix of tracks. Both the studio version on A Picture of Nectar and all twelve live versions are played atop a background of interspersed urban and woodsy sounds – water running, birds chirping, horns honking, an occasional siren wailing – while Fishman plucks calmly on a guitar while seated on a wooden stool.

Arguably a parody of new age music, Jon labeled the tune “Windham Hell,” alluding to new age distributor Windham Hill Records. Fish was on vacation as the Nectar liner notes were being scripted, and the other band members elected to resolve potential conflict (legal or otherwise) with Windham Hill by changing the song’s title. What to change it to? Well, in the November 1991 Phish Update newsletter, “Fish’s Forum” included a misspelling, whereby the intended mock-Southern phrase “raht tuh the front door” lost its reputed meaning when “raht” became “faht.” Fish was annoyed with this gaffe, and his band mates, ever trying to get Fish’s goat, decided to change “Windham Hell’s” title to “Faht,” claiming that Elektra had misspelled the title he had chosen. 

Some argued that “Faht” is just a Boston-accented “fart,” which may refer to the tuba blast at the end of the otherwise idyllic studio track. However, Fish himself set the record straight in an April '92 "Letters" section of the Phish Update: "I should mention that all the sound effects - wind, birds, sea, jungle sounds, screaming monkey, traffic noise, truck and boat horns - were all produced by simply cupping my left hand into my right armpit and moving my hand around in different ways to produce the varying nuances. Normally when one does this they can only produce the sound of flatulation or "Faht". Hence the title, which is meant to be a humorous understatement pertaining to the sound one normally gets when squishing the hand in the armpit." OK, Fish.

The song itself hasn’t changed much, but its role has, even though all twelve versions came in the second set of their respective shows. Earlier appearances (four in fall 1992 and four in summer 1993) came late in the set and offered a relaxing break after particularly vigorous tunes (“You Enjoy Myself,” “Harry Hood,” “Possum,” “Mike’s Song,” “Antelope”). The last appearance to date was on 12/2/95, between a fumbled “Simple” and a crisp “Tweezer.” But the song’s few appearances since ‘93 (two set openers in 1994, and the 10/3/95 version which segued out of “Billy Breathes”) played a different role: focusing all attention front and center in preparation for the ensuing musical madness.

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makisupaman Reply
makisupaman I wouldn't mind seeing Fish "faht" on stage again.
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