Feats Don't Fail Me Now
Music/Lyrics: Barrere, George, Martin
Vocals: Mike, Page, Trey
Original Artist: Little Feat
Original Album: Feats Don't Fail Me Now (1974)
Historian: Phil Nazzaro
Little Feat’s rolling, rollicking, rave-up rocker began life as the title track of the band’s fourth album in 1974. It is another great example of the joyous music to come from the collaborations between Paul Barrere and Lowell George while they were still nicely playing together in the sandbox. The tune oozes with Feat’s trademark funky Cajun country rhythm and blues soup paired with slightly off-kilter, cartoon-ish lyrics about semis, love on the run and the liberating freedom of the road.
Then in 1978, a supercharged version of the song appeared on the live Waiting for Columbus album. Stretched out from two and a half minutes to over five, the tune now included a lengthy call-and-response segment with the audience like something right out of a Baptist Church and a rhythm section that stares you straight in the eyes while flat out daring your leg to keep from shaking around like a fish on the line.
Little Feat, ”Feats Don't Fail Me Now” – Pinkpop Festival, Landgraaf, The Netherlands, 1976
Flash forward to 2010: The song remains a staple of Little Feat’s setlists, and also entered Phish’s canon in Atlantic City, NJ as part of Halloween’s Waiting for Columbus musical costume.
Not be outdone in the “Music as a Celebration of Life” department, this version is a bouncy, smiling piece of music that almost doubles the original running time again. It begins with a groovy percussion workout while Trey introduces the five piece horn section and percussionist that joined the band (hey lordy!) for the evening. Then it builds back towards the church with its rhythmic chanting and emotive cat call outbursts. When the energy hit its peak and there was nothing left to say, the entire band grabbed cowbells, horns, maracas and any portable percussive instruments handy and made their way around the perimeter of the audience in New Orleans marching parade fashion, on their way to set break #2. Hopefully “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now” will roll right through the night in a Phish show again sometime.
Phish, ”Feats Don't Fail Me Now” – 10/31/10, Atlantic City, NJ