Music/Lyrics: Anastasio, Marshall
Historian: Phillip Zerbo (pzerbo)
Last Update: 2016-03-06
“Ladies and Gentlemen, The Chairman of the Boards.” As often introduced by Trey either before or following its performance, “Lawn Boy” shines the spotlight on Phish’s Chairman of the Keyboards, Page McConnell. Not content with a stylistic diversity that includes everything from punk to bluegrass, “Lawn Boy” adds lounge crooning to Phish’s repertoire.
“Lawn Boy” provides the title track for Phish’s second studio album, and in keeping with the Phish tradition of variety – in this case unplanned – there are two different versions of the studio release. The re-mastered version on Elektra is significantly slower than the original version on the Absolute A-Go-Go label. Perhaps they found this version preferable, as the live version performed today is even slower than the (already slowed-down) remastered album cut.
“Lawn Boy” – 7/19/03, East Troy, WI
Introduced at Boston’s Paradise on 11/30/89, “Lawn Boy” has been a standard ever since, remaining in a more or less regular live rotation. Almost all renditions witness Page moving out from the veil of his keyboard setup to assume front-and-center stage in order to serenade the crowd. “Lawn Boy” also provides an opportunity for Mike Gordon to display his more subtle skills, with a laid-back, jazzy solo.
While live renditions are for the most part similar, a few notable versions can be found on 7/19/91 and 7/21/91 with the Giant Country Horns; 8/21/93 with Béla Fleck and the Flecktones; 8/16/97 with an extended bass solo by Mike, and on 11/21/97, featuring Fishman’s intentionally slow, non-eventful “anti-drum solo.” Standard versions appear in many otherwise notable shows, including 12/31/93; 10/31/98 Live Phish 16, 12/31/99 Big Cypress, 12/31/02 MSG hiatus-buster, 8/2/03 IT; 8/14/09 Hartford throwback; the excellent opening set to Super Ball IX on 7/2/11; 4/26/14 at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival; and 10/31/14 Las Vegas with a Fish drum solo.
The most prominent placement in the song’s long history was also completely unique: an a cappella offering to conclude the third set on 12/31/12 at MSG, one of the finishing touches on the lawn-themed set and overall NYE gag theme.
Page fans will certainly want to check out the first set of Phish’s performance on 7/19/03. This set featured consecutive appearances of “NICU,” “Rocky Top,” and “Ya Mar,” all songs where Trey encourages Page to “Play it, Leo!” After Trey coined these songs “The Leo Trio” the spotlight continued to shine on Page, as he stepped out for an inspired “Lawn Boy."
Versions of “Lawn Boy” where Page was joined by guests can be found in Vida Blue’s performances on 4/9/03 with Kyle Gass (of Trainwreck and Tenacious D fame) on acoustic guitar and vocals and 1/10/04 with Jamie Masefield on mandolin. Trey has also performed the tune four times without Page: at the 11/14/05 TAB gig with Trey on acoustic guitar and the song’s co-author Tom Marshall on vocals, and on 2/20/11, 2/23/11 and 3/1/11 with Trey on acoustic guitar and vocals, Tony Markellis on bass and Russ Remington on drums.
“Lawn Boy” – 12/31/12, New York, NY