I Didn't Know
Music/Lyrics: Richard Wright
Vocals: Mike, Page, Trey
Historian: Ellis Godard (lemuria)
Last Update: 2012-07-29
"I Didn't Know" is typical Phish: arbitrarily quirky lyrics in an AABB rhyme scheme, delivered in three-part harmony accompanied by a thumping bass line, and altogether a bit about having “lost it.”
The song, written by band friend Richard “Nancy” Wright (who sang it with Phish 5/14/88), was first known to be performed on 11/18/87, and was included on the band’s first promotional tape circulated in 1988. Half of its appearances to date were in a three-year period (1991-1993). The song declined in frequency rapidly since then, although it returned for a whopping six performances (of 60 U.S. shows) in 1999. It continues to be the song in which Trey is likely to call Fishman something other than Henrietta.
"I Didn't Know" – 3/24/92, Richmond, VA
Though almost entirely vocal, the only true a cappella rendition was 3/28/92. More typically, the lone bass is joined by an instrumental oddity, including washboard (Fishman, 3/31/93), cymbals (Mimi Fishman, 4/8/94), megaphone (Trey, 6/15/95), trombone (Fishman, 6/20/88, 9/27/95, and 12/28/95), bass drum pedal (Fishman, with his knee, 6/29/94), of course the vacuum (Fish mostly, but Mimi on 7/19/91), and, finally, the Bag Vac (Fishman, combining vacuum cleaner and bagpipes, 3/24/92).
Otherwise, few modern versions stand out. Notable are the inclusion of “My Sweet One” (on 6/14/94) and the display of an actual picture of Otis Redding (see lyrics, below) at some early shows. Memorable were the transitions into an abbreviated “Dust in the Wind” on 7/18/03 and “Feel the Heat” on 12/31/03, and featuring a spirited "Let's Go, Flyers!" crowd chant on 6/24/10 during the vacuum solo.
"I Didn't Know" – 8/16/11, Chicago, IL
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I found it interesting that Nancy (Richard) derived the "Pardon me Doug, is this a picture of Otis Redding? Yes, yes." section off a melody in the song Chattanooga Choo Choo.