Albums: Round Room
Historian: Phillip Zerbo (pzerbo)
Last Update: 2016-02-09
"Mock Song" is one of two Mike Gordon compositions on Round Room, along with the title track. Yet, these two songs were just a slice of Mike’s newfound prodigious output during this era: Mike reportedly brought 22 new songs to the table for consideration as the band prepared to end their hiatus in late 2002. Alongside the 2002 collaboration with Leo Kottke, Clone, and his 2003 Inside In solo release, this period represented a breakthrough in Mike’s songwriting output.
Fan-produced “Mock Song” video
“Mock Song” is as its title suggests. Mike did not set out to write the tune; it was put together to act as a soundcheck to test for new configurations that he was developing with an engineer for his New York sound studio. While it may well have been assembled without much foresight, “Mock Song” nevertheless seems to capture the essence of Mike’s songwriting. Obtuse yet graceful, the lyrics produce a surprising phonic elegance. “Mock Song” combines lyrical oddities with a slow, infectious, trance-like groove, layered with the warm yet dissonant sustain of Trey’s guitar straight out of the book of Frippertronics.
“Mock Song” also holds a distinction for referencing what in the opinion of at least one band member was “the worst Phish lyric ever written.” In an informal interview on Phantasy Tour’s message boards, Tom Marshall was asked about his least favorite lyric. While he wouldn't offer the full lyric at that time, he explained that it ended with, “Will I dance on grave?” Apparently Trey loved the line, but Fishman hated it with an incredible passion; as a result Trey kept pretending to put it into songs to annoy Fish. Mike paid homage to the running gag with the lines: “Fountain, Egg, Treason, Cave - Will you dance on grave? / Throat, Carrot, Meeting, Choke - I got that joke.”
“Mock Song” made its live debut on 7/12/03 at The Gorge. Despite the positive reception by fans, the song was immediately mothballed. Perhaps it was the “Will I dance on grave?” line? Even more curious than it not again appearing in Phish setlists was that it never saw action in any of Mike’s solo projects. But after a dozen years and 320 Phish shows, “Mock Song” made a triumphant return on the biggest stage of them all, on 8/21/15 at the Magnaball festival. Mike struggled through the first verse, but made up for that and more by replacing the “Fewer, Pink, Kyle, Ball” line with “Clifford, Super, Magnaball,” to the delight of the assembled crowd. I’ve known them all!
Call it what you will.