Vocals: Page, Trey, Mike
Historian: Dan Purcell
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.” We have no known evidence of the song's original prep-school form, but the modern Phish arrangement opens with Fish setting a bouncy tempo on his woodblock, followed by some typically nimble, folksy guitar picking from Trey, 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 an ever-so-slightly sinister, metal-esque 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 consonants ‘l’ and ‘r’ both belong to the family of phonemes called “glides.” 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 glide into another: “And we’re glad glad glad that you’re a glide.”
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'."
Although "Glide" has fallen into relative disuse since 1994, it seems clear that the band considers it a special treat, a way to show love for its fans during emotionally significant shows. "Glide" found a happy place in the greatest-hits setlist of the final pre-hiatus show on 10/7/00. After the hiatus ended, 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." Unfortunately, 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 star-crossed weekend. It was a terrible way for such a bright and positive song to go out.
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-show 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.
You must be logged in to leave a comment!