The Fog That Surrounds
Historian: Craig DeLucia, Mark Toscano
The fall ‘95 tour opener in Sacramento marked this song’s debut – sort of. Perhaps Trey explained it most concisely in his introduction at that very show, indicating that some fans may think they recognized the song, but it wasn’t what they thought it was. But then again, it was almost what everyone thought it was. It was “Taste” – or rather, a lyrically re-worked version of “Taste.” The music was the same. The structure was the same. Hell, even the chorus was the same. But the easy summer ‘95 fan favorite had somehow become – simply through the obliteration of the original’s lyrics – an entirely different tune that many folks frankly found frightening. Well, that’s overstating it quite a bit. The re-worked “Taste” (dubbed “The Fog That Surrounds”) was a fine song, but it was a finer song when it was “Taste,” and fans couldn’t figure out why the band had messed with it. The new lyrics, sung well by Fishman (who had that tour just begun to truly find his singing voice), were even received with no real criticism. Perhaps it was merely the principle: “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”
At any rate, the band was apparently also unsatisfied with this second incarnation of the tune, and by the middle of the fall ‘95 tour it had undergone another change. This third version – dubbed “Tasty Fog” by many fans following its 10/27/95 debut – was basically an egalitarian combination of the two previous versions. Trey would start out with his “Taste” verses, and Fishman would begin his “Fog” verses one triplet behind, in true “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” fashion. Fish’s verses would conclude over repetitions of the chorus from the other band members. This third version of the song persisted through the end of the year, its final performance being the 12/29/95 Worcester show. The fourth variation of this song turned out to be basically the first version again, and it re-debuted on 7/3/96, with Carlos Santana making a guest appearance. Trey made it official in Amsterdam on 7/12/96, announcing in the first set that “Fog That Surrounds” would cease to exist, with “Taste” re-asserting its place in the band’s repertoire.
Though it hasn’t been played since 1995, a few residual “Fog” lyrics remain in the final version of “Taste” (and the version found on 1996’s Billy Breathes), which hopefully goes to show that all of that re-working wasn’t for nothing. For versions of “Fog That Surrounds,” check out 9/27/95, 10/5/95, or 10/24/95. For versions of “Tasty Fog,” check out 10/27/95, 11/10/95, 11/29/95 (with Béla Fleck), or 12/29/95.