a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation

Performances Song History Lyrics

The Ballad of Curtis Loew

Music/Lyrics: Allen Collins, Ronnie Van Zant

Vocals: Page

Original Artist: Lynyrd Skynyrd

Original Album: Second Helping (1974)

Debut: 1987-04-29

Historian: Craig DeLucia, Mockingbird Staff

"Curtis Loew" is the story of a lonely old guitarist whom the narrator, as a young boy, would pay to play the blues. From 1987 through 1990, the song was a regular second set number in the Phish repertoire. The song disappeared, though, after 10/30/90, and was not heard again until 3/14/93 when the band dusted old “Curtis” off during the soundcheck and then played the song in the second set. It was played two more times and then was buried again after 8/2/93.

“Curtis Loew” remained one of the most frequently requested covers on tour through the hiatus and all the way up to Phish's break-up in 2004. For many eager fans, hearing the song at an occasional soundcheck (for example, at Big Cypress in 1999) only made matters worse. At Fenway Park on 5/31/09, Phish rewarded many fans' patience with a breakout performance after an absence of almost sixteen years and more than 600 shows. Happily, the Fenway version was not a one-time bust-out, and "Curtis" has seems to have made his way back into the rotation (check out 6/12/108/13/10 and 6/18/11 for examples). 

"The Ballad of Curtis Loew" 5/29/11 Bethel, NY

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Recommended Versions: 1990-10-30, 1993-03-14, 1993-08-02, 2009-05-31

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dabpigpen Reply
It seems in recent shows phish has been reaching back into its vast catalog to bring back some of the older feel many of us miss. From peaches to the colonel to icculus we have heard some old and rare treats, often played spectacularly. I love the energy at the recent shows and hope it leads to some more open musical exploration, cannoodling and jamming as only phish can, its those moments when they loose theselves in the music that takes me (and I suspect a lot of the audience) to those indescibable "special" places. That only they can (and the dead use to). Its what keep me coming to shows with a smile of expectation and pleasure. See you all there, db
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