You Better Believe It Baby
Also Known As: Too Much of Everything
Music/Lyrics: Joe Tex
Vocals: Trey (lead), Fish, Mike, Page (backing)
Original Artist: Joe Tex
Original Album: The Love You Save (1966)
Historian: Phillip Zerbo (pzerbo)
Phish has played more than its share of obscure covers over the years – from the otherwise practically unknown ("Ya Mar" or "Lit O Bit") to songs that may have been well known in non-rock music genres but were "out of the blue" to a Phish audience ("O Mio Babbino Caro" or "Dixie Cannonball" among many others). No matter how seemingly obscure, the combination of rabid fan attention to every note Phish performs combined with the "Age of Intergoogle" has resulted in very few mysteries. Phish geeks may exhibit many faults, but a lack of thoroughness isn't usually cited as being among them. Then there is the curious case of "You Better Believe It Baby." First, the facts, then a little on "the anatomy of an error."
"You Better Believe It Baby" was written and performed by Texas-born soul singer Joe Tex (born Joseph Arrington Jr.) and released as a single in 1966. Tex was modestly successful as a performer, with his best-known single being "Hold What You've Got." He gained more notoriety for an ongoing feud with James Brown that involved – among other things – charges that Brown stole Tex's stage moves and then stole his wife, which reportedly resulted in Brown firing a gun at Tex in a Texas nightclub. Phish performed the tune twice during the 1998 "summer of covers" tour, first on 7/26/98 in Dallas and then again a week later on 8/2/98 at Deer Creek; it was also teased during “Tweezer” on 10/30/98 and played during soundcheck on 7/10/00. The Phish versions were relatively faithful to the original – or at least as faithful as a bunch of Eastern white suburbanites can pull off when covering classic Nashville Soul.
Joe Tex, "You Better Believe It Baby"
This tidy story was not, however, the one that was told by this author in either of the first two versions of The Phish Companion. Long before Phish posted their set lists online, the determination of new song titles was a mix of guesswork, old-fashioned research, and an occasional query lobbed in to friends on the Phish staff, Tom Marshall, etc. For whatever reason such due diligence was not exercised in this case, and we ran with the best guess at the time – that the tune was called "Too Much of Everything" by The Fabulous Thunderbirds. Never mind that actually listening to that song and what Phish performed would have revealed this as the (very) wrong conclusion. My bad. But not just my bad – Phish had it listed as "Too Much of Everything" on their "This Month in Phish History" segment for July 1998, and the error was perpetuated everywhere from other online setlist files to Parke Puterbaugh's Phish: The Biography.
Finally in 2009, as the Mockingbird Foundation staff began to develop our song histories for the rejuvenated multi-media phish.net you are now enjoying, we were determined to resolve the "mystery" once and for all. Kevin Shapiro from the Phish office did a little digging and came up with the proper original source, for which we extend our sincere thanks.
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