Why Don't You Love Me?

Originally Performed ByHank Williams
Original AlbumSingle (1950)
Music/LyricsHank Williams
VocalsTrey (lead); Mike, Page (backing)
Phish Debut1987-02-21
Last Played1987-03-23
Current Gap1752
Recommended Versions1987-03-23
HistorianCharlie Dirksen, Mark Toscano, Saul Wertheimer


Just two known Phish performances exist of this funky song originally composed by the not-at-all-funky-to-his-own-credit Hank Williams. Why is Phish’s version funky? Sometime over this song’s evolution, it split off in two divergent directions. One was a traditional path, and the song is still covered by many artists today, as it originally was played in the early ‘50s by Hank Sr.

Hank Williams Sr. "Why Don't You Love Me?"

The other path was an interesting one, tracing from Williams’ original, to various early rock and roll incarnations, to the proto-funk-boogie of Little Richard. On a set of recordings highlighting the collaboration of Little Richard with none other than Jimi Hendrix, the duo covered this unlikely song, making it funkier and groovier than ever. More recently, the Red Hot Chili Peppers featured a totally funked-out version of the song (with pedal steel!) on their 1984 debut LP and a limited edition covers collection from 1998.

In Phish’s version of “Why Don’t You Love Me?,” Trey sings the vocals in a lower range than usual, and with a gusto so funky that you’ll doubt that he’s a honky (or maybe not). This amusing cover jams in much the same way that Phish’s covers of “I Wish” and “Sneakin’ Sally” used to jam, which is to say more along the lines of Hendrix and the Chili Peppers than Hank’s or Pat Boone’s versions. The 3/23/87 version of the tune is also interesting for a very nice segue into “Camel Walk.”

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