a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation

Performances Song History Lyrics

Jennifer Dances

Music/Lyrics: Anastasio, Marshall

Vocals: Trey (lead), Mike, Page (backing)

Debut: 1999-12-05

Historian: Phillip Zerbo (pzerbo)

This simple and sweet tune first greeted the 12/5/99 Rochester crowd. The song charmed some fans with its warmth, and it represented one of Phish’s most pop-oriented originals to date. 

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 focused on the "kitchen" theme. The majority fan verdict was probably harsh and disproportionate for such a short and innocuous song; as always, you be the judge

The song was considered for but ultimately left off of Farmhouse. After two more performances (12/7/99 and 12/17/99), the song disappeared, but is not entirely forgotten. Whether they were genuinely thinking of "busting it out" in such a high-profile environment or – more likely – were just playing around with each other and 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 at MSG.

Perhaps propelled by these teases, a funny thing happened to this song: fans... want 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! Finally somebody got it right with the signs!” Will this just be another in a long line of teases? Or will the fans mount an unstoppable campaign for “less salt?” Hard to say, but remember, “you can bring a sign, but it has to be something we want to play!” Does the fire still burn for lowly Jennifer? Stay tuned!


Phish 6-8-11 - Darien Lake Performing Arts Center - Darien Center, NY - Photo by Dave Vann © Phish 2011

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Fluffhead Reply
Fluffhead Interestingly Jennifer Dances is also an anagram for Ninja Feces Nerd. Coincidence? I think not.
Score: 6
waxbanks Reply
waxbanks i didn't realize folks had complained about the lyrics, and i didn't know anyone thought this tune sweet and innocuous; i assumed everyone hated it because it's repetitive, monotonous, and poorly paced, with an execrable chorus ('the workers they come back' is a pain to sing and 'from their day in the field' tails off badly; and the 'jennifer dances' backup vox are unintentionally funny) and shockingly childish verses -- the lyrics might not be bad, but trey couldn't even be bothered to write a damn vocal melody for this one!

trey phoned in a lot of his farmhouse-era songwriting duties (sand? first tube? heavy things? JIBBOO?!) but this is probably the nadir.
Score: 0
Mr_Incompletely Reply
Mr_Incompletely Saw 15-20 pink jennifer dances shirts atthe gorge 2011
Score: 0
Martina Reply
I think it's awesome. I don't get why everyone hates it. Is it TOO awesome for you? I hope they play it.
Score: 0
esb420 Reply
I had the extreme displeasure of hearing Jennifer Dances at Hampton '99. This is probably the worst song ever written by Phish. There are a couple others that are almost as bad--Mexican Cousin and Bug--but Jennifer Dances should never be played again.
Score: 0
dmaximus Reply
I was also at the debut and it was like the band collectively lowered their pants and dropped a huge stinking turd on the audience. Maybe the turd stank so much because they all ate the meal Jennifer cooked while dancing. This is the worst song Phish has ever performed and I hope they never play it again. Getting covered in salty feces at a Phish show once was enough for me.
Score: 0
Doopes Reply
Doopes I was at the debut.. This song is extremely lame and should never be played again. I'm not alone on this thought, I've been seeing phish since 95' and I've never disliked a song more then this crap.. I'd take a let me lie into a heavy things onto a bouncing over his crap! That's my 2 cents! Lol
Score: 0
nichobert Reply
nichobert I remember being mystified by the reception to this song. I think a lot of fans were questioning the direction and commitment of the maturing Phish around this time and chose to take their anger out on Jennifer Dances in particular for some strange reason. I love that Trey is having fun with songs that have very vocal detractors, like MPP 2010 repeating the Crowd Control that irked so many people to the verge of distraction the previous year.
Score: 0
weekapaugrooven Reply
weekapaugrooven jennifer dances at merriweather, please?
Score: 0
djmeneses Reply
Actually with the link that was my first time hearing the song. I personally like it. I always thought the joke was that it was a horrible song. Beg to differ. Play it boys!
Score: 0
Babyrattlesnakes Reply
Babyrattlesnakes I noted the 12/30/10 reference as well (very much audible on the ppv boradcast, as was Fish's breathing (?) during Antelope) but this occurred at the beginning of the second set, not the first.
Score: 0
davidpo61 Reply
Also considered for, and left off, the first set opener on 12-30-10 at MSG! Trey did a deliberate fake-out with his microphone open...called "Jennifer Dances", then went into Tweezer, and the band followed!
Score: 0
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