Vocals: Mike (lead), All (backing)
Historian: Martin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty)
Reminiscent of the Worcester (11/28/97) and Philadelphia (12/2/97) “Ghosts” and the Albany (12/13/97) “Mike’s” -> “Groove,” the opening theme of “Meat” is a hybrid of the basic groove core of the “old” “Ghost” and a stop-on-a-dime break-down jam. In the break-down jams of fall 1997, one band member would be the featured funk-master, getting down with his bad self while the rest of the band looked on in amusement. Unlike those breakdown jams, the full stops in “Meat” are deafeningly silent. They leave the listener hanging, with the sound of their heartbeat ringing in their ears.
The verses of the song feature the voice of Mike Gordon. The first is sung by Mike alone and is followed by a chorus sung by Trey, Page, and Fish. Following verses are sung by Mike in unison with the chorus repeated by Trey and Page with an alternate Fishman chorus in which he sounds like a member of Cameo during a particularly fly rendition of “Word Up.” In the Story of the Ghost album version of “Meat,” this Fishman chorus is processed and robotic à la the Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic.” The lyrics are mysterious ghosts of Gamehendge tales untold which have a distant kinship to Edgar Allan Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart.” They tell of a man deluded, convinced he is happy alone. Sitting in silence waiting for a call, he listens to the living, flocking outside, beyond his self-imposed wall.
“Meat” was first performed live on 7/2/98 at the Grey Hall in Freetown, Christiana, Denmark. It was at this show where the song was identified by Trey as the second part or “duology” of the Story of the Ghost trilogy (which includes “Ghost” and “Fikus”). The prince who thinks he has it all made, his only other appearance in Europe emerged from “Julius” of the second set of the 7/6/98 show in Prague.
“Meat” was one of a host of new songs played at the 7/15/98 Portland Meadows U.S. summer tour opener, following a mid-second set open-face sandwich of “Tweezer” -> "California Love" -> "Tweezer" -> “Free” (officially released as Live Phish 17). “Meat” appeared twice more during the summer at Deer Creek (8/3/98) and Star Lake (8/11/98), and another chunk that fell into “Reba’s” tub on 11/27/98 in Worcester, MA was released on Live Phish 06. The most interesting versions since then have been the 12/30/99 performance at Big Cypress and a reprised slice of “Meat” on either side of a “Maze” in Nagoya, Japan on 6/13/00. “Meat” was served up following “Runaway Jim” on 7/21/03 at Deer Creek for its only post-hiatus appearance, and has remained in light rotation during Phish 3.0 including offerings on 11/29/09 at the CCCC and on 10/12/10 in Colorado.
"Meat" – 11/29/09, Portland, ME
Although Phish has trimmed down on "Meat," it has remained a repertoire staple of the Mike Gordon Band. During 2008, MGB performances were notable for their occasional augmentation by guest musicians which included: 7/4/08 at High Sierra with Ivan Neville; 7/6/08 at Rothbury with Trey; 8/2/08 at the Gathering of the Vibes with Bill Kreutzmann; and 9/5/08 with Freekbass.
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