a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation

Performances Song History Lyrics


Music/Lyrics: Anastasio/Marshall

Vocals: Trey, Page

Albums: Farmhouse, Live Phish 04

Debut: 1998-10-17

Historian: Mark Toscano, Elayne Best

One of Phish's lighter offerings, “Sleep” premiered at Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit, debuting with the advantage of an acoustic setup. Played only sporadically since (and electric taboot), the song usually acts as a breather for the band and the audience, and occasionally as an opening encore tune.

“Sleep” nicely describes the feeling of trying to remember thoughts and ideas generated during lucid sleep, immediately prior to waking. Both Tom and Trey penned the song during one of their writing and recording sessions at the legendary Stowe farmhouse. Tom’s lyrics are some of his most evocative, and Trey’s wonderful main guitar line is a perfect marriage of simplicity and thoughtfulness in composition.

That said, versions of “Sleep” don’t differ from show to show, although this is not a bad thing. Played several times on the fall 1998 tour (10/29/9811/11/9811/18/9811/25/98, and 12/28/98), the song reappeared the following year only twice (7/8/99 and 7/26/99). Two performances of the tune can be found among Trey’s 1999 solo shows, on 5/11/99 (with Tom Marshall) and 5/13/99, both with Trey playing piano rather than guitar.

The 2000 release of Farmhouse indicated that the band had not forgotten this likable tune – as they seemingly had with its brethren "Waking Up" and "Never" – and though its appearances through 2003 were modest (6/14/009/18/00 and 2/28/03), chances are that Phish will always find an occasional place for this one in setlists to come.

"Sleep" found it's way into two summer shows in 2009, (6/16/09, and 8/7/09), but has not stirred since. Both versions were played with the simplistic elegance that the song is known for. "Sleep" continues to serve the role of a calming, mellow breather for the band and the audience.

"Sleep" from Bittersweet Motel

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Recommended Versions: 1998-10-17, 1998-12-28, 2000-06-14, 2003-02-28, 2009-06-16

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