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Performances Song History

Guy Forget

Music/Lyrics: Abrahams, Anastasio

Debut: 2000-10-01

Historian: David Steinberg (zzyzx)

Last Update: 2012-02-02

Moroccan-born Guy Forget began playing pro tennis in 1982, making a name for himself that many enthusiasts of the game won’t soon... Oh, skip it.

Mike Gordon’s “Catapult,” was actually dreamed up by the occasional writing duo of Trey Anastasio and Dave Abrahams. Coming out of an especially fruitful night at the Rhombus with Tom, Daubs, and Pete (the songs “Pyromaniac” and “Girlfriend Named Bubba” were also composed that evening, also known as Tom’s bachelor party), Trey and Dave came up with this amusing song-pun on one of the most memorable names in sports history.

The tune itself cryptically dots a few 1993 soundcheck setlists: 2/22/93, 2/23/93 and 3/17/93. It also appears quickly in the “You Enjoy Myself” vocal jam on 12/28/92. However, for many years the only “official” version of “Guy Forget” to yet grace the stage occurred in Phoenix on 10/1/00, sung over a post-”Piper” jam, before flowing into “When the Circus Comes.” This version was popular enough that it appeared as bonus footage on the Live in Vegas DVD.

One question has remained about the Phoenix version of the song. While the chorus was quite identifiable, the words sung before it were hard to make out. The mystery was resolved in 2003.

Tom Marshall was posting to the Phantasy Tour message boards and was asked what the worst lyric he ever wrote was. Apparently Tom wrote a poem (“a dreadful thing that was never meant to see the light of day”) that Trey absolutely loved. They were immediately put into a song much to the ire of Fishman. Jon ranted about how bad the lyrics were to the point where this became a running joke. Trey would constantly pretend to put these lyrics into a song just to annoy him. While Tom was willing to admit that the final line of the song (“Or will I dance on grave”) appeared in “Mock Song,” it took some work to finally have him admit to the entire lyric. The “official” all-time worst lyric penned by Tom Marshall turned out to be:

Basking in the silence

Soaking up the violence

Will the good lord save?

Or will I dance on grave?

Pull out your copy of Live in Vegas and listen around the 11-minute mark of the “Piper.” The first two lines are transposed, but those are clearly the lyrics. Check out the looks that Trey gives Fishman after every line. Phish might not be as silly as they used to be, but they can still get away with referencing inside jokes in front of thousands of people with none of us being the wiser. 

If you just love those lyrics, they also can be found in the 4/25/93I Didn’t Know,” where Trey says that Jon would ask the “eternal musical question,” of, “a) Will the good lord save? and b) Will I dance on grave?” That’s asking quite a bit out of a washboard solo, but Fishman tries his best.

Despite the lyric, “Guy Forget” was never quite forgotten. He first reemerged in the town some call Chuckville on 10/16/10, once again in a vocal jam. That was just a tease though. It took the magic of Commerce City (9/4/11) for our memories to be completely jogged. As a “Ghost” jam raged, Fishman started singing the sacred name. This led to a complete singing of the lyric over the jam. It’s a more energetic arrangement which eventually winds back into “Ghost,” in which a secret is revealed: “And now you all know / who the ghost really is / the ghost is / Guy Forget.”

These two “full” versions have one odd thing in common. “Guy Forget” is the only song played more than once that is exclusive to the Mountain Time Zone. Apparently Forget likes to train at altitude.



A Tribute to Guy Forget

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