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Performances Song History Lyrics

Paul and Silas

Also Known As: Hall in Solace

Music/Lyrics: Traditional

Vocals: Trey (lead), Mike, Page (backing)

Original Artist: Josh White

Albums: At the Roxy

Debut: 1990-09-13

Historian: Mark Toscano, lumpblockclod

Songs about the biblical characters Paul and Silas have actually been quite numerous in music history, and various interpretations of the story have shown up in folk, gospel, and country incarnations, as well as spirituals and hymns. Fans who enjoy the version Phish performs will likely be most comfy with the classic Flatt and Scruggs reading, played as fast, no-holds-barred bluegrass. However, the history of the song goes back farther than that, with Appalachian blues singer, Josh White, first recording the song in 1935. While the song was almost certainly part of the folk tradition well before White's recording, Phish has modeled their cover after the Flatt and Scruggs version.

Though most versions of this tune (played regularly from 1990 to 1994, and only sporadically since) have been pretty standard, a few shine. 12/11/92 slipped into a crazed “Big Ball Jam,” 2/21/93 featured the Reverend Jeff Mosier on banjo, 7/22/93 featured Gordon Stone on banjo, and 11/29/98 featured amusing alternate lyrics about Paul Languedoc’s run-in with the law the night before. Since 1998, Paul and Silas remained bound in jail until their release on 8/11/09, a performance reportedly inspired by a request from a fan who met Trey the previous evening at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Also of note is Trey’s now-famous error in identifying the title of the song. Until 1992, he always announced and sang the tune as “Hall in Solace,” until bluegrass-savvy fans corrected him once the band started regularly playing beyond its Northeastern digs. 



"Paul and Silas" – 8/8/93, Cleveland, OH

Submit notes/corrections

Recommended Versions: 1992-12-11, 1993-02-21, 1993-07-22, 1998-11-29, 2009-08-11

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