Albums: Round Room
Historian: Phillip Zerbo (pzerbo)
"Mock Song" is one of two Mike Gordon compositions on Round Room, the other, the title track. As several Phish albums contain no Gordon compositions, even this small number is high in comparison. Yet, those two are just a slice of Mike’s newfound prodigious output during this era: Mike 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 the breakthrough in songwriting that Cactus fans have long sought.
“Mock Song” is as its title suggests. Mike did not set out to write the tune; it was thrown together to act as a sound check and test for new configurations that he was developing with an engineer for his New York sound studio. While it may well have simply been thrown together without foresight, “Mock Song” nevertheless seems to capture “the essence of Mike.” Both obtuse and graceful, the lyrics produce a surprising phonic elegance. Irony prevailing, the lyrics almost make sense, or at least you could see how they would make sense to Mike. “Mock Song” combines these 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 containing 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
The positive reception to the tune by fans has yet to translate into live performances: the debut of “Mock Song” on 7/12/03 at the Gorge was the only live performance to date.
Call it what you will.
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