a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation

Performances Song History Lyrics

The Line

Music/Lyrics: Anastasio/Fishman/Gordon/McConnell

Vocals: Trey

Albums: Wingsuit

Debut: 2013-10-31

Historian: Jeremy Welsh (jwelsh8)

Last Update: 2013-11-12

Debuted as the third song of the now-famous second set from 10/31/13 when Phish decided to cover their future selves, the song “The Line” could have been written by the band for that very evening. 

As Trey explained later in the set:

“Dedicated with much love to the incredible Darius Washington, Jr. that song is about his experience when he missed those two free throws at the end of the Final Four Michigan State game. We love him, and we can relate." 

Actually, Trey, Washington missed two of three free throws while playing for the University of Memphis against sixth-ranked Louisville in the 2005 Conference-USA tournament. But who’s counting? 

2005 Conference-USA basketball tournament, Memphis vs Louisville

The song is written from the standpoint of Darius, standing there on the parquet floor of the FedEx Forum in Memphis in front of his home crowd, just before the shots were taken. We have all been told how to handle times of stress where you are put on stage: You have done this before, stand tall, control your breathing. Take your time, nail these shots, and your whole future is in front of you...

But that doesn’t always hold true. Sometimes, no matter the amount of preparation or skill that you may have, it just does not work out. The shots don’t fall. For whatever reason, the rim just continues to get smaller in front of you.

On that Thursday evening in Atlantic City, Phish stepped up to the line. They had debuted songs before, played in front of hundreds of thousands of people in sold out venues, taken chances and succeeded. But this night, when expectations of fans may have been elsewhere, the band stepped to the line not knowing if they would end up victorious. The future (of the songs that would be played, at least) was ahead of them. They clung to the notion that it would all be fine. 

Did they end up winning in the end?

”The Line” – 10/31/13, Atlantic City, NJ

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deDfIsh Reply
deDfIsh Yes. More importantly all of us there won. Let's say they play a costume,, novel and fun, but honestly how many of you listen to the costumes of Halloween's past? Instead we got the real Phish experience...the Unexpected! And it was a real treat. Plus, that 3rd set was pretty damn great. Yea...we won.
Score: 7
mgouker Reply
mgouker I feel like a winner. Thanks, Phish, for taking the chance.
Score: 5
jking007 Reply
Yes. Great experience from a great band.
Score: 1
phishhead2110 Reply
Phish is the most incredible musical entity on the planet in my opinion. They not only are a talented group of guys, but have developed their own genre(s) and sub-culture. Though I realize that they have extended the hippie culture with an ever expanding membership, there is something truly unique going on here. They are the only act in the music business other than maybe Lady Gaga (on a tiny scale) to have a career built around communication with their audience. It was never about money or fame... Phish is the only band that is so heavily based on musical communication between members. Their jams are comprised of a conversation between members on stage. As with any conversation there are elements of mood, tone, ambition, agendas, manipulation, love, support, anger, joy, disappointment, and total elation. It's amazing to experience the expression of emotion and sentiment first hand and how well this translates to recording while still leaving a completely unparalled experience behind for those who attend their shows. I hope that we have many more years to enjoy our beloved quartet.
Score: 0
orangeman91 Reply
I felt like I hit a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning of game 7 of the World Series when I heard / saw them for the first time to open the 2010 summer tour at Toyota Park. Completely changed my view on what music is and can be. I think we all win for loving this amazing band that only wants to give to the people that step up to the line to listen to them.
Score: 0
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