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Performances Song History Lyrics Jamming Chart

Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan

Music/Lyrics: Anastasio/Herman/Marshall

Vocals: Trey

Albums: Joy, Live In Utica, Alpine Valley

Debut: 2009-06-02

Historian: Martin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty), lumpblockclod

Last Update: 2014-09-29

Whether you occupy the corner office on the upper floor of your corporate tower, a windowless cubicle in the tomb-like tilt-up at the downtrodden end of the industrial park, the cashier's station at the local supermarket, or a stage in front of thousands of adoring fans... you probably have grown weary of your place in our wage slave society at one time or another. This is not where/what/who we planned to be when we grew up. Somewhere along the path to our personal "American Dream" the plan has become faulty. We feel trapped, uninspired, bereft of joy, empty, and alone. However, thanks to the wonders of the Internets, e-mail, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, we no longer have to suffer alone. With a few keystrokes we can share our pain with everybody. Such a situation is the origin of "Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan." 

“Got a blank space where my mind should be.”



"Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan" - 8/15/10, East Troy, WI, from the Alpine Valley 2010 DVD/CD

Listening to the first line of “Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan,” it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think this song was a relic of the ‘80s written in the same vein as a song like “Sanity.” However, where the latter case of mindlessness drips with anarchistic psychedelia, the former is imbued with the empty despair that lies at the thoughtless core of workplace malaise.

“Got a CLIF Bar and some cold green tea.”

The second line reveals this as a more modern creation, from the early aughts. Written as an ode to the mid-morning snack that helped Tom Marshall get through his nine-to-five workday where he would “dream of being free,” a dream he would share via e-mail with his fellow desk jockey and songwriting companion Scott Herman and ultimately realize by escaping from his solitary confinement. The song was written and first recorded in 2003 during the same session that produced “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing.” This original demo, featuring a multi-track Trey playing all positions, is a funky groove that in parts is evocative of “Shakedown Street” with a salsa beat. Inexplicably shelved and not included on Undermind, the song may have been lost forever when Phish parted ways in 2004. 

AUDIO: "Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan" - October 2003 The Barn, Vermont

During the Joy sessions in 2009, the old plan was unearthed and transformed into the more familiar power rock anthem version we know today. Perhaps the notion of being free struck a power chord with Trey, having recently endured his time in drug court and recovered from his days spent living a faulty plan. When weighed down with the demands of our keepers, we are well served to stand strong, go Galt, and simply shrug the weight of the world off our backs.



"Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan" - 6/17/11, Charlotte, NC

Phish debuted the song on the first night of a three show run at Jones Beach in June 2009. Along the spectrum of Phish songs, “Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan” certainly tends toward the less experimental end. Nevertheless, the straight-ahead rock guitar that dominates the song has always left fans waiting for the version that will launch band and audience alike into the stratosphere. It hasn’t come yet, but the band must see the same potential, as “Stealing Time” – though normally a first set stalwart – has been a relatively frequent set closer. Though not the song to turn to for wild improvisation, it has been played a few times in the second set where that kind of thing is more in keeping with the plan. Among these second set versions (6/18/10, 6/11/11, 7/3/11, and 8/2/13) the last example is the closest this song has to a "best version" to date. It has a particularly strong Type I jam and an outro that flirts with leaving the song structure entirely. Alas...the power ripcord.

So if you are stuck in a rut at work, heed the words of Tyler Durden and remember that "You are not your job!" Dream the dream of being truly free, because "it's only after we have lost everything, that we are free to do anything."

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majormajorx2 Reply
This song made me quit my job and switch career tracks. After going to labor day 2013 and hearing it live, I was re listening to the song on the way to work one day and it all just came together. I've got to get out of my cube and do what I really want! Funny how that was the exact sentiment behind the song. So glad it was written and performed.
Score: 1
phearless Reply
phearless Great write up. Maybe add 6/15/2012 version as a reccomended version. Still probably one of the if not a top 3 most exploratory STFTFP
Score: 1
PhredfromIndiana Reply
@FACTSAREUSELESS said: [quote]This song always makes me smile because it's one of those few songs that seems to touch so closely the transition of oxy-Trey to clean-Trey.

I always thought the lyrics to this song were about Trey being an addict and cleaning up. I actually always wondered how Trey could have a ball singing these lyrics!! Also, the guitar rhythm is very similar to "Last Dance with Mary Jane," and I believe they are both in A minor. Notwithstanding, good to know what its really about, which is another plague in our society, sadly. For ME, this song is about doing the same stupid shit when you already know better, and about being fully stoked at Deer Creek '09 to see a new song I really liked!!
Score: 0
phearless Reply
phearless @Golgi_Groove said:
@phearless said:
Great write up. Maybe add 6/15/2012 version as a reccomended version. Still probably one of the if not a top 3 most exploratory STFTFP
I was gonna say this too! Best one I've heard live
Yeah, it was a doozy
Score: 0
april81972 Reply
Philly 11/24/09 is the go-to version
Score: 0
Twist_Around Reply
Twist_Around Caught the first live version at Jones Beach in 09 (my first show). Still love that opening riff
Score: 0
FACTSAREUSELESS Reply
This song always makes me smile because it's one of those few songs that seems to touch so closely the transition of oxy-Trey to clean-Trey.

Even though it's a straightforward rocker it's still quite Phishy.
Score: 0
Golgi_Groove Reply
Golgi_Groove @phearless said:
Great write up. Maybe add 6/15/2012 version as a reccomended version. Still probably one of the if not a top 3 most exploratory STFTFP
I was gonna say this too! Best one I've heard live
Score: 0
skr213 Reply
skr213 The 8/2/2013 version certainly came closer to living up to the potential that is discussed in the second to last paragraph here. Love this song and hope they keep going in the experimental direction with it.
Score: 0
Euclid Reply
Euclid Great write-up
Score: 0
marianney Reply
Now that I know what this song is about, I love it even more!
Score: 0
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