a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation

Performances Song History

The Pendulum

Music: Phish

Lyrics: Zenzilé Madikinea

Vocals: Zenzilé Madikinea

Original Artist: Zenzile

Debut: 1986-02-03

Historian: Mockingbird Staff

Last Update: 2016-02-27

Once upon a time, Phish played backing music while Zenzilé Madikinea recited revolutionary poetry. Zenzilé studied at Goddard briefly around this time, having been a revolutionary and “troublemaker” in South Africa as a young adult. Zenzilé rallied extensive support for various civil rights causes, urged on by his innate dissatisfaction with the heinous state of the world, always electrifying his supporters with eloquent speech and cadence. 

The first Phish/Zenzilé collaboration took place on 2/3/86 at Hunt’s, offering a four-”song” suite of that included  “Tonight,” “The Pendulum,” “Babylon is Burning,” and “Dec 1661.” On April Fool’s Day 1986, they reprised “The Pendulum,” perhaps in order to distinguish between Zenzilé and a true prophet – Phish subsequently slid into “Dave’s Energy Guide” as a bridge to “Icculus.”

Though maybe not a prophet, it seems Zenzilé did have a lasting impact on Phish, or at least Trey. Over twenty-three years later, during the soundcheck from the 8/14/09 Hartford show (available as a free track from, Trey can be heard quoting part of "The Pendulum." Who knows why those obscure lines ended up in Trey's head in 2009, but what song did they bust out later that night? That's right, "Icculus." 

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