Historian: Mark Toscano
"Somantin" has never appeared on any Phish album. It doesn’t appear on any live Phish recording and has never been performed live at a Phish show. Its existence is only known to fans in three ways. First, it appears on the infamous “Ghost Outtakes” recordings that have circulated since first showing up following that album’s final recording sessions in 1998. Second, Trey performed it three times on his May 1999 solo tour. And third, it appears on Trampled By Lambs and Pecked By The Dove.
It’s a very nice, tender ballad, yes, but it boasts a few unusual touches reminiscent of the work of Adrian Belew or even Robert Fripp. On the Ghost outtakes version, the song’s chorus kicks in after the stripped-down first verse, the restrained soar of a guitar drone commands attention, as the piano and bass walk upwards in deference to Fish’s clockwork high-hat beat. Enter the acoustic guitar breakdown, with more storytelling vocals from Trey, followed by another chorus. A delicate cymbal and electric piano bridge follows with Trey’s fragile vocals, and the song concludes with another chorus, this time with a few more instruments added to the mix. All the while, the multi-faceted story of a beleaguered character named Somantin unwinds, intertwined with the music in a nicely offset pattern. The lyrics were adapted by both Tom and Trey, from stories they each tell their respective children. The end result is a three-and-a-half-minute sweet pickle of a song, but one that apparently isn’t ready or able to make the transition to the live Phish stage.