Original Artist: Boston
Original Album: Boston (1976)
Historian: Craig DeLucia
In the fall of 1994, Phish began to play a variety of songs in a traditional bluegrass setup. Most of these tunes were bluegrass staples by legends like Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs. As usual, though, the band was not content to simply accept common musical conventions; they put their own musical twist on this hard-rocking Boston classic by modifying the song from an arena-rock classic to a bluegrass ditty. The intro, once played on a wailing organ, was transposed for the banjo, which Mike Gordon worked into a frenzy. Like “Free Bird,” this song remains a classic example of how Phish always finds a way to put their own unique stamp on even the most popular of all music.
When the fall ‘94 tour came to an end, “Foreplay/Long Time” was put on the shelf with many of the bluegrass songs that had become concert regulars. It remained there until the summer of 1999, when it made its first (and only) electric appearance to lead off the 7/12 Great Woods show (perhaps in reference to the venue’s proximity to the city of Boston). Whether future versions remain electric or return to bluegrass remains to be seen.
Of course, the most recent time lucky fans heard “Foreplay/Long Time” at a Phish concert, it was Boston’s original version… piped through the arena P.A. as pre-show music at the first post-hiatus performance on 12/31/02. And how appropriate it was -- it had been such a long time!