Music/Lyrics: “Reverend” Jeff Mosier
Original Artist: Jeff Mosier
Historian: Geoff Ecker
Last Update: 2011-09-28
The talented “Reverend” Jeff Mosier played his banjo and sang onstage with Phish multiple times going as far back as to when he was still a member of the Aquarium Rescue Unit in 1990. In addition to founding three different bluegrass bands (Good Medicine, Blueground Undergrass, and The Mosier Brothers Band), he has toured and shared the stage with countless other musicians including Widespread Panic, Leftover Salmon, The Allman Brothers Band and Vassar Clements.
In November of their fall ‘94 tour, Jeff accompanied Phish for five consecutive shows in the Midwest, spending days providing instruction in bluegrass and coaching them on what instruments to buy. Each night he’d join them onstage during their acoustic mini-set of bluegrass inspired music.
After a spirited version of “My Long Journey Home” with the “Reverend” on spoons during the Dayton, Ohio 11/17/94 encore, Phish performed “To France” before segueing into the Phish debut of “Fixin’ to Die” with Jeff on banjo and vocals. This short, nearly two-minute song is a pleasant, soft, melodic, almost lullaby sounding banjo-driven pattern of repetition with odd, non-verbal singing added into the cycle later.
It was never listed in setlists prior to 2010 because it was generally assumed to be a part of the introduction to “Fixin’ to Die.” Only through a few fans’ combined determination was ARU discovered to have also played the song on 5/26/90, (though, likely because the song was a rarity even in ARU’s repertoire and was not included on an official release, it was unidentified in that setlist as well). Fortunately, Jeff Mosier himself identified the song, noting that he wrote it in ‘88-89 for ARU. Mosier offered the following back-story:
“One of my first and best girlfriends had moved just moved to France and I wrote it on my front porch swing, in a sadness stupor, on the day she left. The funny singing in the song was an ARU addition that Phish evidently loved. (Jeff Sipe and Oteil Burbridge started it I recall). The humor of that singing... became a great and healing medicine for me. It was never recorded, but I plan on putting it on a rock banjo album. To this day ARU nor Phish has any idea what the song was about or meant, which to me is great.”