Historian: Elayne Best
"Joy" was written in mid-to-late March of 2009, after the Hampton comeback shows. Jambands.com 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