Run Like an Antelope
Also Known As: Antelope
Lyrics: Marshall, The Dude of Life
Vocals: Trey (lead), Mike, Page (backing)
Albums: The White Tape, Lawn Boy, Colorado '88, At the Roxy, Live Phish 02, Live Phish 05, Live Phish 06, Live Phish 07, Live Phish 09, Live Phish 10, Live Phish 13, Live Phish 14, Live Phish 16, High Neighbors: Dub Tribute to Phish, The String Quartet Tribute to Phish, Coral Sky, Hampton/Winston-Salem '97
Historian: Elayne Best, Charles Franz
Last Update: 2013-03-22
Imagine a young boy who once worked with his mother developing stories and songs of fantasy and fun. Imagine that boy in high school, playing in a garage band, studying the styling’s of the masters of rock, teaching himself guitar, and writing ever more inventive music. Imagine that boy putting together a rock band in college with others similarly serious about their craft. Imagine that band puffing a big fatty and themselves imagining a young buck antelope as they ease into a tune. Imagine with them as the antelope begins a leisurely stroll across a plain of fragrant grasses, bright morning sunlight warming the air around him, insects buzzing lazily in the background. Doo do doo do doobie doobie doo do.
Suddenly, a fly bites him on the ass and he’s off! Bounding through the grasses, his well-muscled haunches tensing and relaxing, tensing and relaxing, faster and faster. After awhile, the initial impetus for flight is forgotten as he revels in his speed and agility. Hooves pound on resilient earth, his heart thumps deep inside, his coat gleams from his mighty exertions on this most magnificent of days. Antelopes, graced with momentum and nimbleness usually run under control, unless they are under attack by a predator. Under attack, they are twisting and turning, tensing and wild eyed and frenzied, running faster and faster and faster. The antelope’s running may drive him directly into the fate that his gift of speed was meant to allow him to avoid.
"Run Like An Antelope" – 5/20/87, Shelburne, VT (Part 1)
"Run Like An Antelope" – 5/20/87, Shelburne, VT (Part 2)
That’s kind of how “Run Like an Antelope” starts. The antelope bounces back to life, however, as Mike’s bass line picks him up (listen to 6/11/94 for instance) and the band carries him off, advising us all to run like an antelope, over and over and over. That’s kind of how “Antelope” ends.
Trey actually did write stories and songs with his mom, and did teach himself guitar while playing in a high school band. That band, Space Antelope, eventually wrote a tune called “Run Like a Space Antelope.” “Run Like an Antelope,” with lyrics contributed by Steve Pollak (the Dude of Life) and Tom Marshall, first appeared on a demo tape called Jaun, which Trey made in his basement shortly after Phish formed. The studio version of “Antelope” on Lawn Boy (music recorded in 1988 in one take, according to Trey) does start with overdubbed sounds of much huffing. For the rest, you’ll have to use your imagination.
As one of the oldest standards in the Phish repertoire, “Run Like an Antelope” has seen significant development and variations. The opening section of early versions from 1985 seem fast-paced, without the series of peaks building to the ultimate climax of later years, the transition to “rye, rye, rocco” seems abrupt, while the ending is short and far less structured. By 1988 and Lawn Boy, however, the tension and release leading to climax pattern was well established. The “Rye, rye, rocco. Marco Esquandolas. Been you to have any spike, man?” verse is pretty consistent – changed from the earlier “Happen to have any spliff, man” – and the “Set the gearshift for the high gear of your soul. You’ve got to run like an antelope: out of control” lines are exclaimed rather than intoned. The ending, where “You’ve got to run like an antelope: out of control” is repeated, is one of the best examples of the influence Lou Reed and Velvet Underground has had on Phish.
Since then, “Antelope” often has been a vehicle for ferocious jamming and stage antics. The “rye, rye, rocco” line has had many impromptu variations by Trey. The clear peaks of the first section became less distinct in the "Phish 1.0" era, however, as Trey used more effects-laden builds to create more textures of sound in the run to climax. "Phish 2.0 "versions returned to a clearer voicing on Trey’s part. "Antelope" has been true to form in the "Phish 3.0", and it remains a staple that is greeted with frenzied enthusiasm every time that antelope’s hooves start their frantic dance. When Trey delivers the lyric, “Set the gearshift for the high gear of your soul,” there is a euphoric level of energy felt by all.
There are almost too many great versions of “Antelope” for a short list to do justice to the range of what is available. Fans definitely should pull out Lawn Boy for another listen. For live versions, check 8/26/89 (on Live Phish 09); 3/22/91 Steamboat Springs, CO; 3/13/92 (the Big Black Furry Antelope); 4/1/93 (teases of “I Feel The Earth Move” and “Barracuda”); 8/14/93; 5/4/94 (where Trey relates news of a friend’s baby and says “I hope you live your life like that last jam.”); 6/11/94 Red Rocks (a great pre-FM soundboard of this show circulates); 6/24/94 (with "Disease"-style jamming); 7/16/94 (with “Catapult” in the middle as well as a Simpsons signal and Trey running around stage with a megaphone); 10/24/95; 10/31/95; 8/17/96 (Clifford Ball, acrobat motivated frenzied jam) 11/2/96 (the “cross-eyed antelope” with Karl Perazzo and “Norton Charlton Heston” replaced “Marco Esquandolas”); 6/25/97 (with crew introductions); 7/29/97, (a mystical, transcendent version not to be overlooked); 8/6/97 (with an instrumental “Makisupa,” Star Wars theme teases, and Page on theremin and Mike on mini-drum kit); 4/3/98 (a “deconstructed” “Antelope” with “Carini’s gonna get ya” lines added); 10/30/98; 12/30/99; 1/2/03; and 8/13/09 features "been you to have any splash cymbal solo, man?" promptly followed by said solo by Fishman to which Trey responded "Yes, man!". Tom Marshall appeared with Phish to deliver the line he contributed (“rye, rye, rocco...”) at the New Year’s Eve shows in 1993 and 1994, as well as on 9/9/00 and 12/1/03 (both in Albany, NY). “Antelope” was featured in the April 7, 2002, “guest appearance” by Phish in the Simpsons episode, “Weekend at Burnsie’s,” complete with Simpsons secret language.
"Run Like An Antelope" – 12/05/09, Charlottesville, VA
During the 12/05/09 "Antelope", the lyrics of the chorus were very appropriately modified to give tribute to the naked guy who had danced onto the stage and was subsequently chased off during the first set. When Trey sang,"Been you to have any naked guy, man?" the audience roared with appreciation. The naked guy references didn't stop there, as they continued the "Run, Run, Run..., Naked Guy!" and delivered the last of the chorus "You got to run like a Naked Guy Out of Control, run Like a Naked Guy Out of Control". Indeed, the naked guy was running for his life, or maybe his clothes.
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