Music/Lyrics: Anastasio, Marshall
Vocals: Trey (lead), Mike, Page (backing)
Historian: Phillip Zerbo (pzerbo)
Last Update: 2016-03-08
This simple and sweet Anastasio/Marshall composition first graced the Phish stage on 12/5/99 in Rochester, NY. The song charmed some fans with its warmth, and at the time it represented one of Phish’s most pop-oriented originals.
While certainly appreciated by some fans, “Jennifer Dances” also elicited an unusually vocal and – at times – mean-spirited chorus of criticism. Most of the disapproval stemmed from the song’s pop-orientation, but there was also dissent from some who viewed the lyrics as misogynist, particularly: “Jennifer dances and she cooks me a meal / A little less salt in the gravy tonight,” earning the song assorted derisive nicknames: it was commonly called “Kitchen Bitch.”
The fan verdict was seemingly harsh and disproportionate for such an innocuous song. “Jennifer” was considered for but ultimately left off of Farmhouse. After two more performances – 12/7/99 Portland, ME and 12/17/99 Hampton – “Jennifer” retired her cooking duties.
”Jennifer Dances” – 12/7/99, Portland, ME
Whether they were genuinely thinking of “busting it out” in such a high-profile environment or – more likely – just messing with each other and/or the audience, listen to Trey jokingly lead the band into “Jennifer Dances” before the second set opening “Tweezer” on 12/30/10, and before “Gone” on 12/31/10.
Perhaps propelled by these teases, a funny thing happened to this song: at least a few fans... wanted it back! At the Darien Lake gig on 6/8/11, an enterprising fan in the front row wearing a “Jennifer Dances” lot shirt held a “Jennifer Dances” sign. Trey then asked for the sign, held it up, gave a triumphant fist pump and said, “finally someone made a sign for this!”
Phish 6/8/11 - Darien Center, NY - Photo by Dave Vann © Phish 2011
“Jennifer Dances” made its return to the stage in hysterical fashion on 7/27/14, in the sweat-drenched confines of Merriweather. Following a throw-back “Tweezerfest” that had thoroughly hosed the assembled crowd, and emerging from a highly atypical jam that was born from “NICU,” Page and Trey led into “Hold Your Head Up” to summon Fish from behind his drum kit. When he initially took center stage Fish seemed unsure what to offer – likely the sing-a-long “Lengthwise” – until Trey had a better idea. A seemingly mocking version of “Jennifer Dances” followed – the first in 352 shows – with Fish only managing the first two lines, followed by words that will live in Phish infamy: “The workers they come back from their day in the field / Jennifer dances and she cooks me a meal / That’s all the words that I know / to this song / Jennifer mmm… My Dong!”
“Jennifer” is clearly on the band brain, as just a few days later in Portsmouth, VA the song was soundchecked in a blues style before morphing into “Foxy Lady.” Perhaps the Merriweather performance was a one-time thing. That said, don’t be shocked if “Jennifer” returns in its original form – or even ends up as the centerpiece for a NYE or festival gag!
”Jennifer Dances” – 7/27/14, Columbia, MD