Ha Ha Ha
Albums: Hampton Comes Alive
Historian: Jeremy D. Goodwin
Last Update: 2013-03-01
This is undoubtedly one of the strangest Phish songs to come out of the 1990s. One of the few Fishman-penned contributions to the catalog, “Ha Ha Ha” is one of those songs whose effect far exceeds the sum of its parts. It’s a two minute crunch rocker, held together loosely by a riff and the refrain “Ha ha ha ha.” The lyrics (such as they are) are delivered in a flat, eerie tone that feigns ambivalence while achieving the ominous.
The tune remains strangely endearing, in part because of its limited duty. It showed up a handful of times in 1995 after its debut in Lowell, and then crept back deep within the recesses of the rotation. Since ‘96 the boys have picked their spots carefully, and unleashed this quirky favorite quite rarely. It initially seemed to hover on the edge of extinction before being occasionally exhumed, but the band seems to have eased into a steady, once or twice a year rotation for this song. Phish uses this number to greatest effect whenever they pull it out; its appearance is inconceivable in a mere run of the mill show. It’s opened shows (10/25/96, 6/30/00), participated in bizarre transitions (11/21/98 “Free” > “Ha Ha Ha” > “Free” and 7/15/03 as part of a triple decker "BBFCFM" sandwich), and served as an exclamation point to great jamming (7/3/95 “Tweezer” -> “Ha Ha Ha”). Fans wanting to experience a more recent version should seek out 8/15/09 where it preceded the debut of another Fishman lyrical masterpiece, "Party Time” or 10/30/10 with a “Whole Lotta Love” tease, one of many Zeppelin-infused songs from that evening.
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See 10/30/10, band plays Whole Lotta Love during Chalkdust--and follows it with a similar prank/punchline rendition of HA HA HA, laughing at us for believing Zepplin was the Halloween album. This version even includes a Whole Lotta Love tease.
Whereas the "Lushington" > Ha Ha Ha punchline is a reaction to a rare song 'spelling tease' that stems from the Rolling Stone online poll (fans stuffed ballots for Lushington as Phish's 'best song ever')......the 10/30 punchline wouldnt be fully understood until after Halloween, when they definitely did NOT play Zepplin. ZING!
The commentary of "PT Ha Ha Ha Possum" to open 2013-07-20 proved subtle, yet incisive. Further elaboration figured into next night's Harpua narration - basically, a big FU to overly-critical fans (represented by Phantasy Tour), who want things done "the right way," as if such a way exists. The band that continues to do whatever the hell it wants goes Ha Ha Ha all the way to the bank.This reminds me of 12/31/12 when they played Garden Party ("If you can't please everyone then you gotta please yourself." then went into Possum.