a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation

Performances Song History Lyrics


Music/Lyrics: Anastasio/Marshall

Vocals: Trey

Albums: Joy, Lullaby Versions of Phish V2

Debut: 2009-06-07

Historian: Elayne Best

"Joy" was written in mid-to-late March of 2009, after the Hampton comeback featured an article during Festival 8, entitled, "Ode to Joy: The Tom Marshall Interview". In this article, Tom elaborated on the various meanings and interpretations of this emotional ballad.

Tom's initial inspiration for "Joy" was based on the connection between daughters and pure happiness. The original lyrics were: "Joy is over there in her incredible clothes, she has rings on her fingers and bells on her toes", a play on the Grateful Dead's "Scarlet Begonias". Tom was thinking of his friend Joy and the happiness that daughters bring into life.

During this time period, Trey's sister, Kristy Anastasio Manning, was fighting a courageous battle with neuroendocrine cancer. It was very difficult time to compose songs due to Kristy's condition. When Tom included the lines, "but then somebody leaves you and you're never the same," and “all of the places and people belong to the puzzle but one of the pieces is gone" there was a mutual understanding that "Joy" had become both an ode to Kristy as well as a celebration of daughters.

The line "We want you to be happy, come step outside your room" started as a simple statement about the love of their daughters.  Additional interpretations could also include a message from Kristy to Trey, and a message from Phish to their fans. Kristy's message to Trey is to continue to bring happiness to himself and his fans by playing live music. The message to the audience is clear: come share in the joy and bliss of Phish, because "this is your song, too".

In the interview, Tom confirmed that, in his opinion, there truly are two halves to this song. One is focused on the message of daughterly love and the other is dedicated to Kristy. The song embodies the message of growth, hope, positivity and, of course, "Joy".

It's no surprise that Tom references that this song was "fast and perfect" and it wrote itself. It's an amazing song with a truly great message.

”Joy” debuted on 6/7/09 in the encore, and has shown up in both the first and second sets. No version stands out above the rest, but all are soulfully performed.

"Joy" 10/15/10 North Charleston, SC

Submit notes/corrections

Recommended Versions: 2009-06-07, 2009-07-31, 2009-08-13

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jaimie191 Reply
This is my favorite Phish song. I have a teenage daughter, and this is how I always feel about her. I wish someone played me this when I was a teenager. This is exactly what I want to say to my daughter. I get it, I have been there, but your happiness is the most important thing to me. Please be happy!
Score: 2
raydog Reply
raydog I find this song so incredibly sad. It reminds me of an ex-girlfriend who was struggling with an addiction. "You can't imagine how hard that I tried to uncover the source of the tears that you cried"; "In time we'll weather the storm, inside together, we'll see the change, when the sun shines through" Hearing it always tears me up, we never made it to that sunny day. I know it's not an audience fave, but it is one of mine.
Score: 2
phishncincy Reply
phishncincy RIP Kristy! :,-(
Score: 1
gtrips Reply
gtrips Given its mello nature, this song always moved me and makes me reflect on the loved ones in my life.
Score: 0
phishncincy Reply
phishncincy thank you for inspiring Trey to continue bringing the world Joy.
Score: 0
msgisgoodforyou Reply
great lyrics! this and Summer of '89 are two of my favorite newer songs....Love the evolution!
Score: 0
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