Your Pet Cat

Originally Performed ByPhish
MusicPhish
Lyrics ByJimmy Johnson
Vocals Laura Olsher (Narration Samples)
Phish Debut2014-10-31
Last Played2016-12-31
Current Gap4
HistorianMartin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty)
Last Update2015-09-24

History

Upon first reading the tracklist for Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House in the Phishbill for the 2014 Halloween show at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, I was pretty sure that each of the song titles were just veiled references to songs already in the Phish playbook. “Your Pet Cat” was obviously going to be the first WEST COAST “HARPUA” since 11/2/98. But then the show started. The second song of the first set was “Ghost” which was obviously not going to be played again as “The Haunted House.” Were they really going to play a sound effects album? By the time The Boys™ tore through the completely demented “Big Black Furry Creature From Mars” about halfway through the first frame I was completely at a loss… what else could be “Martian Monster”… ”Life on Mars?” Whatever was coming, it was certain to be both chilling and thrilling. I was half right at least, because we did get a set of Phish songs… they just weren’t what you could call “regular.”

Phish, ”Your Pet Cat” – 10/31/14, Las Vegas, NV. Video by LazyLightning55a

“Your Pet Cat” was the fifth of ten new Phish instrumental compositions inspired by and including narration samples from the aforementioned Walt Disney Records sound effects album, Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House. Following the sample of Laura Olsher’s narration and screaming cat sound effects from the album, the band launches into what can be best described as one of the “Tube” jams that have largely gone missing for the last decade (see 6/24/04 Deer Creek for last known whereabouts). I haven’t yet done it, but somebody should drop “Your Pet Cat” into the middle of the 10/31/14 “Tube” and see how it sounds. It would likely rank as one of the best performances of the song in a long time. Which means as a standalone instrumental with “Cat Scratch Fever” samples from the Disney album (and if you listen closely, a guest appearance by Poster Nutbag), it was pretty stupendous in its own right. Given the close musical kinship of “Your Pet Cat” with the “Tube” jam segment, it was not inconceivable that it could return at some point in the future. It wouldn’t even have to be associated with “Tube” for that matter. You may find “Your Pet Cat” getting down during any particularly funky and upbeat stretch of a jam. For a glimpse of what that might sound like, check out the “Twist” from the following night.

As far as the Disney track that served as the inspiration for the Phish instrumental goes, it ranks pretty low on the fright-o-meter. First we get some history of cat ownership – From the time of the ancient egyptians until today, many people have been cat fanciers. While the ancient Egyptians were noted cat people, archaeological records have dated the earliest domestication of the cat as far back as 12,000 years ago, throughout the fertile crescent, well before the pharaohs rose to power. The advent of agriculture lead to the bulk storage of grains which would then be infested with vermin. The rodents attracted wild cats and naturally cats who were less aggressive were allowed to stick around for the fancy feast.

Image
10/31/2014 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV. Photo by Rene Huemer © Phish.

The narrator Laura Olsher then calls us out for being cat people – You are such a person. This is true… since buying a house a couple of years ago our family has adopted a pair of rescue cats. Laura continues – Your cat is a big beautiful black animal. His appearance as much like a panther as a cat. This is not so true. Walden is a big-boned gray Nebelung… and appears more like a raccoon than a panther. Isabel on the other hand is a sleek bi-color (black and white) American shorthair… clad in a tuxedo and ready for any gala. Concerning their disposition, Laura suggests – Your pet is a very friendly one. Each day as you come home from work, he shows you his affection by purring and rubbing his sleek fur against your legs as you reach down to scratch his head. I certainly experience Walden and Isabel’s affection every day… especially if I go anywhere near where the food is stored. Laura’s chilling conclusion is about as scary as this one gets – Until one day. (THEY ATTACK!) Although they’ve never attacked us (yet), they sure get after it with each other. Recreating the sound effects that conclude the disney track very well.

Although it was hinted at with multiple teases and quotes of both “The Birds” and “Martian Monster” during the 2014 NYE run in Miami, summer tour 2015 demonstrated conclusively that Phish was not going to be one and done with the Chilling, Thrilling tracks. On the fearsome domesticated animal front, “Your Pet Cat” revealed it was actually a “Big Black Furry Creature From Mars” at Merriweather on  8/15/15, and provided the loudly screeched “Y” in the band’s THANK YOU encore at Dick’s on 9/6/15. The latter was a performance wherein Mike ate Poster Nutbag, thereby fulfilling my initial Halloween premonition that “Your Pet Cat” and Poster Nutbag were just two of the nine lives of this particular feline.

Phish – ”Your Pet Cat” “Director’s Cut”

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