Three Little Birds
Music/Lyrics: Bob Marley
Vocals: Jah Roy (6/20/88), Dave Matthews (6/17/95)
Original Artist: Bob Marley and The Wailers
Original Album: Exodus (1977)
Historian: Ellis Godard
"Three Little Birds" has appeared three little times in Phishtory. At an early Nectar’s show (6/20/88), guest Jah Roy teased the lyrics a bit during the jam out of “Ya Mar.” Seven years later, Phish tested the tune at a soundcheck (6/16/95) and then pulled it out for an encore (6/17/95) with the Dave Matthews Band (with whom they had earlier debuted “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “The Maker”). More recently, Trey performed the song with Dave Matthews and Friends, e.g. on 12/19/03.
The song itself only says three little things: the singer woke up, and saw three birds, who told him not to worry. It only has three chords, and only three pairs of measures. There is, in three little words, not much there. But in it, as with “One Love,” Bob Marley magically captured a moving ballad within the distinctive heavy bass and downbeats of reggae.