Vocals: Trey (lead), Fish (backing)
Albums: The Story of the Ghost, Hampton Comes Alive, Live Phish 05, Live Phish 14, Live Phish 17, Live Phish 20, Sharin' in the Groove, Seis de Mayo, Hampton/Winston-Salem '97, Live In Utica, Niagara Falls, Amsterdam
Historian: Chris Bertolet (bertoletdown)
Last Update: 2011-06-29
Trey composed "Guyute" alongside “My Friend, My Friend” while in Ireland, originally intending them as a single composition. Somewhere along the line, however, they fractured, and portions of what would become “Guyute” made their first appearance at a Bad Hat show on 9/11/94 in Northampton, MA. Almost as soon as the finished suite reared its porcine head at a Phish show, it became a fan favorite.
Given the year it first appeared, many aficionados consider “Guyute” somewhat of an anachronism. At first, many speculated that Trey and Tom might have penned it years earlier, only to shelve it until it was fully baked and ready for consumption. Maybe that’s because its symphonic structure and high-wire time and key changes hearken back to 1980’s-era epics like “Fluffhead.”
“Guyute” itself unfolds over four distinct movements. In the first, the narrator chronicles an unpleasant encounter with the tune’s namesake, an ugly pig, in buoyant 6/8 time. If not outright homicidal, the storyteller suggests, Guyute is at the very least malevolent. Trey introduces the second leg of the journey on guitar, tearing through a jig-flavored riff at blinding speed, and the rest of this section playfully explores this theme. The third section, however, takes a turn for the menacing, as dissonance and tempo build to a climactic frenzy. Fishman ends this melee with a drum break, introducing the final and majestic fourth movement, in which a wailing melody finally gives way to subdued ambiance. In early versions (before 12/94), this ambiance was followed by the closing coda (which quotes the opening). Afterward, a mysterious and darkly distorted second verse was inserted before the coda, suggesting that the narrator recalls his tussle with the pig fondly. Go figure.
"Guyute" – 10/20/98, New York, NY
Since Phish doesn’t improvise at all in “Guyute,” and since it’s such a technical challenge, fan critiques often focus on how tightly or energetically the song is performed. The letter-perfect 12/29/94 Providence version is consistently and deservedly lauded as a favorite and as yet another reason to pick up this landmark show. After Providence, “Guyute” disappeared for nearly a year, reportedly so the band could rework it. But when it re-emerged at the 1995 Halloween show the only material addition was several bars of whistling. As the adage goes, if it ain’t broke...
In 2000, Trey and Vermont Youth Orchestra musical director Troy Peters collaborated on an orchestral arrangement of “Guyute,” finally reuniting it with its Celtic companion piece, “My Friend, My Friend.” The VYO performed the suite twice in February of 2001; the Troy, NY, version can (and should) be heard on the Sharin’ in the Groove tribute album. "Guyute Orchestral" was performed most recently – and most flawlessly – during the critically lauded collaboration between Trey and the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall on 9/12/09.
Certainly the most noteworthy Phish reading of "Guyute" in recent years took place in Utica, NY, on 10/20/10. The ultra-playful first set of that particular show has been dubbed "Guyutica" by fans – a moniker that appeared that night in Utica on a sign held aloft by a fan who was adorned in a Mexican wrestling mask. While the "Guyute" proper was not especially noteworthy, the pig continued to rear its head throughout the set, with unpredictable, creative quotes in "David Bowie," "Wilson," and "Run Like an Antelope."
"Guyute" – 10/20/10, Utica, NY