Music/Lyrics: Anastasio, Marshall
Vocals: Trey, Page (lead), Fish, Mike (backing)
Last Update: 2014-10-04
An Ocelot is a wild cat native to Central and South America that looks like a cross between a house cat and a jaguar (and, according to wikipedia, has especially pungent urine… you know, in case you were wondering). Though not usually kept as pets, Salvador Dalí famously owned an Ocelot and, in the world of rock music, so did Gram Parsons. Well, Tom Marshall has an Ocelot, too. Figuratively, anyway.
If there’s uncertainty as to whether the walrus was Paul or John, it’s clear the Ocelot is Trey (minus the pungent urine, one assumes, though only Trey knows what goes on when he’s “pissing in Jah cup”). According to a jambands.com interview, the song “Ocelot” is essentially a letter to Trey, with Trey playing the role of the Ocelot. At the time Tom wrote the lyrics, Trey was just completing his drug court program and was largely shut off from even his oldest friends. “Ocelot” was an invitation for Trey to return to making music with his friend...like Lennon's Prudence, to “come out to play.”
Phish, "Ocelot" – 6/17/10, Hartford, CT
Musically, the bouncy, playful melody is reminiscent of its namesake and, along with the shiny, happy guitar solo, just oozes the sunshine of first sets on summer tour (ironic, given the Ocelot is a nocturnal animal whose “stripes could all fade in the poisonous day”). Thus far “Ocelot” has not ventured beyond the song and five-minute guitar solo formula, and rarely has it ventured beyond first set... with Phish anyway (7/3/13 being the lone exception). "Ocelot" (complete with horns!) was a regular number on Trey's 2011 acoustic/electric tour, ironically appearing almost exclusively in the second set. Check out 2/19/11 or 2/22/11 for examples of TAB's rendition of the song. Enjoyable Phish versions can be found on 6/4/09, 6/16/09, 12/29/09, 6/24/10, 12/31/10 (with an "Auld Lang Syne" tease), 6/16/12 and 7/27/13. Of course, Phish's treatment of "Ocelot" could change at any time. As with most Phish songs, the potential for unbounded improvisation is always there, and, besides, this song is still only a kitten!
TAB, "Ocelot" – 2/22/11, New York, NY
Lastly, it's worth mentioning that while Phish debuts new songs fairly often, on 8/5/10, Trey debuted a new guitar, built from "magic piece of wood to build one last really special guitar." Fans with a keen eye may have noticed that on the headstock of the new Languedoc was not Marley, but an Ocelot.