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Performances Song History Lyrics

Train Song

Music/Lyrics: Gordon, Linitz

Vocals: Mike

Albums: Billy Breathes, Hampton Comes Alive, Live Phish 11, Live Phish 12, Hampton/Winston-Salem '97, The Clifford Ball

Debut: 1996-07-21

Historian: Mark Toscano, Phillip Zerbo (pzerbo)

Among Phish's ballads, quite a few fans consider this wonderful Mike tune one of their favorites. Trey's softly repeating guitar riff shares the tracks with the dreamily evocative narration sung by Mike and from the combined pen of Mike and Joe Linitz (also Mike's collaborator on "Round Room" and "Banks of the Deep End"). "Train Song" winds a sweet and subtle tune perfect for mellowing out any unruly, hyperactive set.



"Train Song" – 5/23/00, New York, NY

Premiering in Germany on 7/21/96, "Train Song" made its U.S. debut in a mini-acoustic setting at Red Rocks on 8/5/96. The Billy Breathes version is recommended for crystal clarity. While live versions don't reflect any substantial variation, be sure to check out the 8/16/97 Great Went version which flowed out of a very short “YEM” vocal jam, the last vocalized chord of which was the same as “Train Song’s” opening. 

"Train Song" was a setlist semi-regular for the remainder 90s, but then after a single performance in 2000 – at the comparably intimate for the time 5/23/00 Roseland Ballroom gig – it disappeared for the next nine years and 111 shows. Fans of "Train Song" were rewarded in Phish's return to the stage in 2009 with multiple offerings including during the opening return set on 3/6/09 Hampton, 6/16/09 at the Fabulous Fox Theatre, and a full acoustic performance on 11/1/09 at Festival 8.



"Train Song" – 11/1/09, Indio, CA

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Dollop_of_Murk Reply
Dollop_of_Murk We've all had that moment doing something while listening to Phish and the song or jam fits exactly perfectly right in with what we were doing.

That happened to me one night on the Oregon coast, with Train Song. My friend and I took the day off to go to the beach and were driving back at night towards Portland via 101. Train Song came on as we drew close to Astoria, at the mouth of the Columbia River:

All the way home we felt we had a chance
To review the coulds before we were born
And to invite a new game of can'ts

Absorbed in the clouds a voice from afar said
"With the right device you can make a pattern grow
Or you can tune up your car"

So far, so good. Great day at the coast, spiritual freedom, we're driving...

So we stayed on the train admiring the time
As the lights of the city drew near
We drank a little wine

The lights of the city were the lights of Astoria across the water at night. We'd had a few microbrews and smoked a bit earlier that afternoon, and were pleasantly blissed and mellow.

They were blurry and green outer space in between
With a depth and a form unclear
Then we saw it up ahead

A flickering lantern lit up on the tracks
In the rugs that had covered up the bridge
From the banks of a river to the bed
Of the valley upstream to the place we live

We crossed the bridge over the bay and entered Astoria, then headed upstream on the Columbia towards home.

The glass on the lantern cast back the sightOf a drive-in movie we drove by below
We saw where we'd been in the pictures within
Projecting all the places we would go
So we follow the scene and flowed up your steps
To a smooth wooden floor in a trance
The train whistle melody woved through the trees
And in through the door to signal the turns of a dance

Tell me those aren't some of Phish's best lyrics. What a way to glide home after a fantastic day outside.

Thanks for letting me get all personal. Train Song is one of my favorites and the timing of that song on that trip couldn't have been better. I still remember how my friend and I just drove without speaking, listening to the song and looking out the windows as though the world were being born anew, and just for us.
Score: 2
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