Music/Lyrics: Anastasio, Marshall
Original Artist: Trey Anastasio
Last Update: 2014-06-19
The Phishbill for the 10/31/13 Wingsuit set promised "twelve brand new, never-before-heard songs" that would likely end up on the planned album. And while 99% of fans in attendance probably thought that's precisely what they heard, hardcore TAB fans knew better. Unlike the other eleven Wingsuit songs, “Winterqueen” actually made its debut over two years earlier as a TAB song on 10/1/11. Given the "one and done" nature of the performance, it's possible Trey forgot he had played it prior to the Wingsuit rendition (or perhaps he just figured it was “new enough” to 99% of the audience).
Lyrically, the song sounds like it could be a companion song to "Frost" (and in fact was written at the same writing session in 2011). It tells the story – sketches, really – of two pairs of characters who act as foils for the other. The Winterqueen sits on land, wishing she controlled the sky, while the Summerqueen lives in the air, wishing she lived below. Similarly, the Prince of Silence speaks without his words being heard, while the Prince of Music is able to produce sound without playing a note. The latter sketch of "the Prince of Music on guitar" can be seen to recall Trey's oft-repeated belief that he is really a conduit for the music that is already exists in the cosmos.
Though the song’s TAB similarities caused many to question whether it would be included on the final album, “Winterqueen” was among the nine Wingsuit tracks included on Fuego (along with “Halfway to the Moon”). On an album where nearly every song benefits from the studio treatment, perhaps none benefits more than “Winterqueen.” Featuring an utterly unique guitar tone from Trey and augmented by a Don Hart-arranged horn section, live versions of “Winterqueen” will be hard pressed to match the beauty Bob Ezrin and Phish achieved in the studio.
As for the live repertoire, while not a ballad per se, "Winterqueen" seems poised to fall into the second set "breather" slot. It's easy to imagine the song transitioning out of a deep second set exploration, in a similar fashion to its appearance out of "555" during the 10/31/13 Wingsuit set. A majestic guitar solo culminates this song for all seasons.
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Expectations for this song are startlingly low. Everyone seems poised to write this one off as a piss song. I gotta disagree, and say that this one has the potential to be a solid type 1 vehicle in the same vein as Ocelot.
Winterqueen! Winterqueen! Where have you gone? You could have been such a solid type one.