Skin It Back
Music/Lyrics: Paul Barrere
Vocals: Mike (Lead)
Original Artist: Little Feat
Original Album: Feats Don't Fail Me Now (1974)
Albums: The Egg
Historian: Phil Nazzaro (pnazzaro)
Last Update: 2014-12-12
Little Feat was quite an influence on Phish during their early years. “Skin It Back” is one of three Feat songs to appear in the band’s repertoire before the 90’s. “Skin It Back” debuted on 10/15/86 at Hunt’s. Besides its great syncopated, funky style, this song features some excellent lyrics about the refusal of our narrator to settle down in one place. This leads him to fret over how to tell someone he loves her when they both know he’ll be on the move again soon. Perhaps the lyrics – which are very un-Phish-like in their romanticism – are the reason this song holds the current record for the biggest known bust out in the Phish history.
Little Feat, “Skin It Back” 1978
The traveling aspects of the words are a possible reason why “Cities” (“Find a city, find yourself a city to live in”) followed “Skin It Back” four out of ten times in its short life in the repertoire. One of which is the searing flawless segue into “Cities” from the 4/29/87 Nectar’s show. Notably, each of the three Little Feat songs Phish has covered – previous to their 2010 Halloween performance of Waiting for Columbus in its entirety – spent upwards of a decade or more in mothballs, but all did return. “Time Loves a Hero” was resurrected after a nearly ten-year hiatus on 8/11/98 and “On Your Way Down” saw the light of day after more than ten years on 9/16/99.
Phish performed “Skin It Back” for the first time in over fifteen years during the 8/1/03 IT soundcheck; this performance was broadcast over the festival radio station, as the audience attempting to enter the venue was stuck in one of doozy of a traffic jam. Since that time it has managed to appear with increasing regularity in Mike's solo endeavors, most notably while celebrating his birthday with Bill Kreutzmann and Scott Murawski at the tiny NYC venue City Winery on 6/3/09. But also try the Higher Ground flavor from 3/26/11 for a little variety.
Most recently, the song had fans gaping as Phish-proper revived the song after a 1,417 show layoff. On composer and performer Paul Barrere's 64th birthday – 7/3/12 – the band opened with a muscular performance of “Skin It Back” that was the first known public outing by the full band since 7/29/88. The immense gap superseded the previous record set by “Fuck Your Face” by a slim, six show margin. So, check back often for updates. A lead that precarious could be overturned by further archeological digs that reveal crusty, old Maxell XLII's that contain previously unknown setlists with either song slipped in.
Phish, “Skin It Back” – 7/3/12, Wantagh, NY