Vocals: Trey, Page (lead); Fish, Mike (backing)
Historian: Dan Purcell (sausagemahoney)
Last Update: 2014-06-18
The kiss-off song is a rock n' roll tradition. Bob Dylan made a career out of it, dismissing an ex-lover with wistful finality in "Don't Think Twice, It's Allright," tamping down the flames of an unwanted admirer in "It Ain't Me, Babe," and telling a self-promoting hanger-on to basically get fucked in "Positively 4th Street." In the mid-70s Dylan revived his career with Blood on the Tracks, which included as its centerpiece "Idiot Wind," maybe the most vicious lyric he ever wrote. The Beatles' kiss-off tunes spat venom at girlfriends ("Think for Yourself"), the concept of "celebrity" ("Baby You're a Rich Man"), and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi ("Sexy Sadie"). In "Solsbury Hill," Peter Gabriel dramatized his resignation from Genesis. Bobby Womack's clear-headed "It's All Over Now," obscure at first, found the broad audience it deserved through covers by The Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead.
Phish has written the occasional kiss-off song over the years, including "Free," which is about throwing your bride out of a dirigible into the ocean. Goodbyes don't get much more emphatic than that. "Sing Monica" debuted as part of the Wingsuit set on Halloween 2013 (though the Phishbill listed it as simply "Monica"), and it's hardly as dark or definitive as "Free." The narrator of "Sing Monica" may be overwhelmed, confused, and ambivalent, but he's sure not happy with the way he's been treated. It's not entirely clear what Monica did, but it's been going on for a while and the singer isn't going to take it anymore. Or at least that's what he says – though you get the sense he'd take her back again if she would just promise to do him right.
”Sing Monica” – 12/28/13, New York, NY
The lyrics are Trey and Tom at their cleverest, trading couplets full of puns, inversions, and double meanings complaining about Monica's fickle, trifling-ass behavior. She "stole the sun" from the narrator, which "de-lighted" him. Looking down from her "ivory tower," he was "in-spired." But she "stole [his] manhood," leaving him "de-sired." Just when he thought things were over, when his "tread was worn," she "re-tired" him. We could go on. Don't make fun; this stuff is harder than it looks, and the meticulous crafting of the lyrics helps "Sing Monica" stand out as a composition among the more jam-based songs on Fuego.
Musically the tune is a bright and peppy shuffle with interlocking vocal contributions from all four band members. As on "Rift" and "Limb By Limb," Trey and Page trade lines during the verse, but even Fish gets his spotlight with some extended, percussive vocals on the chorus. Taking advantage of the flexibility of the Halloween format, the debut saw the band use an acoustic setup calling back to the summer of '96, with Trey on an acoustic guitar, Mike on a standup bass, Page on electric piano, and Fish on just a snare and bass drum. Both the subsequent performance, on the opening night of the 2013 New Year's Run, and the Fuego studio cut used the band's regular electric setup. It remains to be seen whether "Sing Monica" grows into a fist-pumping set-closer or remains a kooky mid-first-set earworm. Either way, if you happen to catch it, you're bound to find it stuck in your head on your drive home (or to the next show).