a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation

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: 2011-07-04

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 down-trodden 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" - 6/12/09, Manchester, TN

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 opiate addiction.

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

The second line reveals this as a more modern creation, from the 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 song writing companion Scott Herman and ultimately realize by escaping from his solitary confinement. This notion of being free no doubt struck a chord with Trey as he 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" - 8/15/10, East Troy, WI, from the Alpine Valley 2010 DVD/CD

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, enjoyable versions can be found on 6/6/0911/24/097/3/10 and 6/17/11 (with the last example being probably the closest this song has to a "best version").

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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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.
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Euclid Reply
Euclid Great write-up
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marianney Reply
Now that I know what this song is about, I love it even more!
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