Good Times Bad Times
Also Known As: GTBT
Vocals: Mike, Page, Trey
Original Artist: Led Zeppelin
Original Album: Led Zeppelin (1969)
Historian: Tim Wade, Craig DeLucia
Last Update: 2016-02-28
Of all the cover songs in Phish’s vast repertoire, “Good Times Bad Times” is one of the oldest and most reliable, making it one of the most frequently played covers since its debut in the mid-eighties. “GTBT” – like Hendrix’s “Fire” and AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” – is usually played as a straightforward rock song and rarely strays from its normal path. Still, most versions include searing guitar work from Trey, including an occasional tease of Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker” (see 6/16/94 for a good example). This makes the song a popular set-closer or encore.
As with most songs, though, a few exceptional gems stand out from the rest. Perhaps the most impressive was the version from 11/21/95, which featured a seamless segue into “Tweezer Reprise.” The segue becomes even more impressive when one considers that, to pull it off, the band played “Tweeprise” in a different key than usual. This segue was pulled off again three weeks later on 12/15/95.
"Good Times Bad Times" – 10/21/95, Lincoln, NE
Also highly atypical was the entertaining ‘93 Roxy version (2/21/93), where the Reverend Jeff Mosier joined the band on banjo. Before moving into more standard songs like “Paul and Silas” and “Pig in a Pen,” the band rocked through a bluegrass “Good Times Bad Times.” Fans of guest appearances will also want to seek out a “GTBT” with John Popper on harmonica, such as 3/14/92, or 6/23/95.
“Good Times Bad Times” had never experienced any kind of significant shelf time. Since its debut, it has been played often and regularly, without any long gaps in appearances. However, after only five appearances in 1998, one in 1999, and three (all as encores) in 2000, “GTBT" returned to the regular rotation in 2003 and has made an appearance or two on pretty much every tour since. Post-breakup versions have been almost exclusively encores, with notable exceptions in the 10/30/10 version, which closed that show's Zeppelin-infused second set, and a rare mid-second set appearance on 7/10/13 to kick off an extended fourth quarter at Garden State Arts Center.
"Good Times Bad Times" 10/30/10 Atlantic City, NJ