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Performances Song History Lyrics

Kill Devil Falls

Music/Lyrics: Anastasio/Marshall

Vocals: Trey

Albums: Joy

Debut: 2009-06-02

Historian: Chris Bertolet (bertoletdown)

Last Update: 2014-01-23

Trey Anastasio and Tom Marshall succeed as songwriters for many reasons, but one of the main reasons is that their songs leave plenty of room for interpretation. That said, a few of their tunes are not so playfully ambiguous, and most observers seem to agree that "Kill Devil Falls" is not a secluded cascade of Jamaican Rum, a town on a map, or a stop on a pub crawl, but a pointed metaphor for the seductive oblivion of addiction that Trey came to know in recent years.

Like most Anastasio/Marshall compositions, "Kill Devil Falls" is a truly collaborative work both musically and lyrically, and Trey contributed much of the self-referential verbiage here. As the song begins, our narrator returns home from a long bender in Kill Devil Falls and is obtusely stunned to find that his love has up and left. He promises her that he'll mend his ways ("this time will be different") but holds out the possibility that he might break that promise ("until I do it again"). While this turn of phrase left some fans scratching their heads about Trey's commitment to sobriety, such is the recovering addict's dilemma: he must acknowledge his own weakness before finding the strength to overcome it.

Musically, "Kill Devil Falls" is "Chalk Dust Torture" all grown up, a full throttle blues-boogie blast that spills into what is typically a guitar-driven jam section. It saw its debut in Jones Beach on 6/2/09, and was the first of numerous songs on the Summer 2009 to be played by request. Quite possibly, the fan who made the request was among several who had heard the tune sound-checked just days earlier through the bullpen fence before the tour opener at the venerated Fenway Park in Boston.

Thus far, the distinction of the most adventurous and intoxicating "Kill Devil Falls" to date belongs to the version from Bonnaroo on 6/12/09, which clocked in at over 15 minutes and explored shadowy, introspective terrain. While most versions cover similar territory, a few that have pushed boundaries include 6/22/10 Great Woods, 5/27/11 Bethel Woods and 6/22/12 Cincy. For a compact but fun take, check out the appearance from 5/13/10 (broadcast 6/9/10) on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.



"Kill Devil Falls" 10/30/10, Atlantic City, NJ

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Recommended Versions: 2009-06-02, 2009-06-12, 2009-08-02, 2010-06-22, 2011-05-27, 2012-08-15

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rasbenton Reply
7/8/12 spac is my personal favorite.
Score: 5
GitDown Reply
It's interesting that the description of "grown up" was used to connect KDF and CDT here, since after noting the musical similarities between the two, it was my theory that the protagonist in KDF is in fact Jezmund all grown up, still flying by the seat of his pants and rebelling against conformity.
Score: 2
phishhead2110 Reply
phishhead2110 I really enjoy this tune and so do my children. Lately I have come to notice that the show opener in Alpharetta, GA on 7/16/13 was particularly sweet. I was at this show with my entire family and remember their faces as they recognized the tune. It was the first song at their first Phish show ever. It was priceless.... I was so caught up in the moment with them that I failed to realize what a tight version it was until afterwards. We all danced and sang and had a great time. I can't wait to get my boys back out there again.
Score: 1
Kodiakfloyd Reply
Really a great song. I truly enjoy the energy it brings and absolutely loved the 7/20/13 version! Fishman full on high hat early on building energy while Gordon grooves around the melody and Page softly bringing the blues into the scene and Trey masterfully builds on a powerful peak that enlightened the crowd and full on "tickle the sky" dancing commenced! Give it a spin, volume on high, and feel the Gods grace us with happiness! Don't go back to Kill Devil Falls!! #sand
Score: 1
pikepredator Reply
pikepredator agreed @rasbenton, SPAC KDF should by included in the recommended versions.
Score: 1
pettrout Reply
I think the CDT reference is right on. KDF/CDT can be sung with alternate lyrics similar to the Purple Haze and Green Acres song "combo", i.e. sing the lyrics of one to the tune of the other and v.v.
Score: 1
lyman Reply
Something about this one makes me think of the Saved by the Bell theme song, or some other 80's sitcom theme. Strange association i know! :)
Score: 0
phan81 Reply
Portland, ME 11/29/09
Score: 0
Kodiakfloyd Reply
Really a great song. I truly enjoy the energy it brings and absolutely loved the 7/20/13 version! Fishman full on high hat early on building energy while Gordon grooves around the melody and Page softly bringing the blues into the scene and Trey masterfully builds on a powerful peak that enlightened the crowd and full on "tickle the sky" dancing commenced! Give it a spin, volume on high, and feel the Gods grace us with happiness! Don't go back to Kill Devil Falls!!
Score: 0
makisupaman Reply
makisupaman 2012-08-25 is the best version I've seen, and one of only a few to open a second set.
Score: 0
killtownct Reply
Isn't" kill devil falls", a waterfall and rock formation in Vermont?
Score: 0
FACTSAREUSELESS Reply
LOVE this song!

First heard it at Amherst, MA and it was like listening to Zeppelin on speed.

This is one of the better 3.0 songs.
Score: 0
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