Vocals: Page, Trey, Mike
Historian: Dan Purcell (sausagemahoney)
Last Update: 2014-01-13
According to the liner notes for A Picture of Nectar, this pleasantly demented jig-like number was “originally written by Trey, Tom and Dave around ‘81,” and then “taken out, dusted off, and rearranged by Phish.” Not much is known about the song's original prep-school form, although Trey gave us some clues during his 11/18/10 show with the Scorchio Quintet at the Richardson Auditorium in Princeton. After finishing off “Flock of Words,” Trey took the mic to salute his longtime songwriting partner Tom Marshall, noting that he wrote many songs with Tom in the general vicinity during his high-school days. In particular he mentioned “Glide,” confessing that as teenagers he and Tom used to sit inside a sculpture outside the Richardson Auditorium and sing “And we're glad, glad, glad that you're alive” to undoubtedly oblivious (or puzzled) people walking by. (Anyway, this is a nicer sentiment than generally gets shouted at passersby from a hidden location.)
”Glide” – 3/31/92, Columbia, MO
Trey didn’t give any clues about how “Glide” was arranged in its primal musical form, but the modern Phish arrangement of “Glide” opens with Fish setting a bouncy tempo on his woodblock. Trey follows with some typically nimble, folksy guitar picking, shadowed delicately by Mike and Page. The guitar melody eventually spirals into a pretty three-part harmony crooning some of the band’s most unapologetically joyful and affirmational lyrics. Because Phish is a band that loves odd juxtapositions of musical styles, after a second go-round of the guitar melody and lyrics, the song then plunges into mock-aggressive power chording and a marginally sinister, metal-tinged variation on the jig theme, before wrapping up with a final, a cappella reprise of the lyrics.
Taken at face value, those lyrics directly greet the audience and express appreciation not just that the crowd decided to come to a Phish show, but for their very existence on this Earth. Phish is happy we exist; they're happy we're at the show; and they're especially happy we love them right back, however weird they might be. Intentional or not, the lyrics also offer some sophisticated linguistic playfulness. The first line of the song –”And we’re glad glad glad that you’re alive” – features a consonant pairing of ‘r’ followed by ‘l’. The second line – “And we’re glad glad glad that you’ll arrive” – features a double-‘l’ followed by a double-‘r’. And the verse's final line emphasizes the transformation of one sound into another: “And we’re glad glad glad that you’re a glide.”
”Glide” – 8/15/04, Coventry, VT
Much like “YEM” and its trampolines, “Glide” was accompanied by exercise glider antics at 1993 shows. Supposedly, the band ordered the gliders from a TV infomercial one night in a motel on tour. Although amusing (at least to the band), the gliders didn't offer a lot in terms of visual dynamics, particularly from the cheap seats of larger venues, and so haven’t been seen since ’93. Being a relatively concise composed tune, "Glide" tends not to vary much from one performance to another. Many versions contain a long pause before the tune's final note – check out 5/22/94, where the band pretends to fall asleep (complete with snoring) during the pause, before Trey eventually announces that "this number is called 'Whoomp, There It Is'."
“Glide” has fallen into relative disuse since 1994, and it seems clear that the band has come to consider it a special treat, a way to show love for its fans during emotionally significant shows. After just three performances in 1995 and two in 1996, “Glide” appeared just once in 1997, 1998, and 1999 – each time at a remarkable show. It highlighted a long and exploratory first set at Shoreline Amphitheater in 1997, followed up possibly the greatest single jam in Phish history (the Riverport “Bathtub Gin”) in 1998, and kicked off a notable four-song encore at Alpine Valley in 1999, sandwiched between the first set’s astonishing 32-minute “Fluffhead” and Trey’s post-show golf-cart misadventure.
”Glide” – 12/28/11, New York, NY
True to form as a shout-out from grateful band to blissed-out audience, "Glide" found a happy place in the greatest-hits setlist of the final pre-hiatus show on 10/7/00. After the band returned from its break, it hibernated for a year and a half; then, after one warm-up performance on 6/25/04, it popped up again during what was almost certainly the most emotional set the band has ever played – the second set of the official Last Phish Show of All Time on 8/15/04 at Coventry, right after the tear-stained "Velvet Sea." With all due respect to the weight undoubtedly bearing down on the band by that point, the Coventry "Glide" was arguably the single most inept onstage moment of the band's long career, and rightly or wrongly came to symbolize all of the many things that went wrong during that mud-caked weekend. It was a terrible way for such a bright and positive song (and band) to go out.
Of course, Phish eventually made its way back against long odds, and “Glide” did too. Maybe the memories of Coventry made the band reluctant to revive "Glide" too soon after their return in 2009, but, happily, the song did finally resurface on 12/4/09, the closing night of Phish's triumphant three-night return to Madison Square Garden. No scientific poll was conducted, but most attendees agreed: it was nice to spend a few minutes with an old friend without having to worry it would be the last time we ever saw her.
”Glide” – 12/31/13, New York, NY
Since then, “Glide” has continued its pre-hiatus status as a rarity, appearing just twice – both times within the friendly confines of MSG. First it followed “Free” at the promising start of the opening show of the band’s erratic 2011 New Year’s Run; then, more notably, it kicked off the fan-favorite 30th anniversary tribute second set on New Year’s Eve 2013, played with vintage equipment atop a makeshift stage in the center of the MSG floor. If you’re not an East Coast fan, you might be feeling a little disrespected by this point that Phish continues to hoard “Glide” for big-ticket New York gigs. Let’s hope that in the coming years Phish drops the tune into random first sets here and there, reminding fans in various geographic areas and all sorts of shows (“special” or otherwise) of the continued vitality of our conversation with one another.