Music/Lyrics: Bruce Springsteen
Vocals: Trey & Bruce Springsteen
Original Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Original Album: Born in the U.S.A. (1984)
Historian: Ellis Godard
Phish closed their second set of Bonnaroo (the first set of 6/14/09, following a late-night set on 6/12) with a three-cover suite featuring Bruce Springsteen, who had reportedly stuck around an extra day to see Phish’s performance. The suite ended with Springsteen’s own “Glory Days,” the fifth hit single from his hit-heavy Born in the U.S.A.
The lyrics tell of a young ball player and an attractive chica who’ve aged into adulthood and long for their youth. But those sad characters are contrasted by an upbeat tempo and the vampy stage presentation that Springsteen offers, as if to say, “P’shaw! High school sucked, but look at me now – a rock star!” Indeed, Springsteen has often introduced the tune by announcing, “I hated high school.”
The members of Phish haven’t reported loathing for their years in high school. Indeed, Trey in particular has devoted much praise to friends and ideas high school from which they’ve grown large but never separated. But if there was a time and place to vamp big – perhaps saying “Hoorah!” rather than “P’shaw!” – their first headlining two-setter at Bonnaroo, with Springsteen guesting, was definitely it. Phish's since performance of "Glory Days" may not wear well with repeated listens, but it was certainly stellar in the moment for band and fans alike.