Historian: Kristen & Ellis Godard
Last Update: 2016-02-01
"The Landlady" – a brief Latin style mamba-esque instrumental written by Trey – originated as the composed middle section of another Phish song, “Punch You in the Eye” (originally called “Punch Me in the Eye”, but not the same as the song by that title). “PYITE” debuted in October 1989 and was played only a half dozen times before its temporary retirement, until 1993. Ten months after “PYITE” was put to bed, “The Landlady” emerged as its own tune, on 9/13/90 at The Wetlands, and entered heavy rotation that fall, where it remained through early 1993.
Fall 1990 was a period in which Phish was aiming to develop new directions from several old songs, as with the extrication of “Landlady” from “PYITE” and the addition of “The Asse Festival” to “Guelah Papyrus.” “Landlady” and “Guelah” have two other common threads: both were included on Phish’s first Elektra release, A Picture of Nectar, and both feature little choreographed dances performed by Trey and Mike during a specific segment of the song. On 7/11/92, four female dancers joined Trey and Mike on stage to do the “Landlady” dance at the H.O.R.D.E. show in Holmdel, NJ.
Because it is a highly structured composition, no song has ever segued into or out of “Landlady” (unlike “PYITE”), though the "Landlady" > "Destiny Unbound" pairing, while not a true segue, is a favorite of many fans. Less common, though interesting, is "Landlady" > "David Bowie" such as at 3/24/92. Other notable versions include 11/2/90 with Page on organ, a rarity at the time; 2/9/91 with great Trey soloing; 3/22/92 to close the Mountain Stage radio show; and 8/12/93 as part of a crazy “Tweezer” jam.
”The Landlady” – 3/24/92, Richmond, VA
“PYITE” returned to Phish’s repertoire on 2/5/93 at Roseland Ballroom, with Trey teaching the audience the “Landlady” dance (dubbed for the only time as the “Storm Dance”). “PYITE” co-existed in the line-up with “Landlady” through 1994 and become a favorite live tune in the years that followed, while “Landlady” became increasingly scarce on its own. “Landlady’s” seemingly last appearances as a stand-alone song came on 12/3/94, featuring the Giant Country Horns. For the next two decades, it was only performed in its original state within “PYITE.”
Though apparently a thing of the past with Phish, Trey Anastasio Band performed “The Landlady” on three occasions: 2/28/01, 12/29/06, and 12/31/06. The song also made an appearance with Trey by the Vermont Jazz All-Stars at Higher Ground on 6/8/99.
Given the large number of appearances – over 200 – but all of them taking place 1990-94, “The Landlady” was frequently cited by fans as their “Most Common Not Seen” song. Then, more or less out of nowhere and after an absence of 768 Phish shows as a stand-alone, “The Landlady” made a triumphant return at Dick’s on 9/6/15. Opening a show that made its mark in the “THANK YOU” encore, “The Landlady” showed its rust, but that mattered little. A subsequent appearance on 1/17/16 on the beach in Mexico suggests that she may stick around to collect rent for future generations of fans.