a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation

Performances Song History Lyrics

Helpless Dancer

Music/Lyrics: Pete Townsend

Vocals: Trey

Original Artist: The Who

Original Album: Quadrophenia (1973)

Albums: Live Phish 14

Debut: 1995-10-31

Historian: Craig DeLucia

At Halloween ‘95, Phish avoided this dark, eerie song about giving up by only playing a few lines from each verse and building them into a crescendo of inaudibility as Trey tried in vain to keep pace with Page’s rapidly accelerating chords. Arising out of the horn fanfare that segued out of “The Dirty Jobs” (mimicking the version recorded on Quadrophenia to a note), the band seemed to regard “Helpless Dancer” in an off-kilter, joking manner. Still, the key to the song is a response to the age-old question “What happens to a beaten man,” and Trey belted that line out in all its glory: “you stop dancing.” This song, like much of Quadrophenia, only “danced” once on stage with Phish.

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