Permalink for Comment #1379422488 by waxbanks

, comment by waxbanks
waxbanks @unoclay said:
Drift while you're Sleeping is one of the most embarrassing songs Phish has ever written--hence why people are leaving. I wish it was a parody song, written by some other band to mock hippies...but sadly, it isnt. Ive almost never rooted for a song to leave rotation, but this one...man, its so cringeworthy and sophomoric....
I think it's fair to say different art strikes people differently -- or the same people differently at different times. 'Drift' is about Trey being with his dying friend at the end, as you know. Trey's not a lyricist or poet, so when he talks about drifting into death on the river Styx it's clumsy -- but because he's spent his professional life seeking real nakedness and unfiltered honest expression, his death-talk is beautiful to me, in a way. (On paper it doesn't work; it's gotta be sung.) After momentary frustration with having to listen to a song I don't particularly like comes and goes, I don't mind hearing. And I do hear something.

I remember Trey -- falling apart -- introducing the Coventry 'Split,' saying 'We're gonna blow off some fucking steam...I keep looking at the clock...' Sounding like death himself. I wonder if it felt on that night like there was too much left to say, and the band doing the right thing was somehow also a mistake. I remember what an uncharacteristic moment of fourth-wall breaking that was, a strange admission. I don't much like that music but I'm so bound up in the story of its making that it doesn't seem necessary to pretend to 'objectivity' about it.

'I guess the good times turned out to be / Just a temporary reprieve from gravity.'

This from the guy who wrote 'Invisible' more than 15 years ago: 'Old times / Because I thought I'd never / Wrap that scene like I knew that I should / It all seemed thin but it sure felt good' ---

Singing then about finally being invisible, singing now about knowing what love is, and being able to say it -- too late.

Trey is no soul singer, though he puts his soul into it, and ever since they did the Bowie album he's been prone to some hoary theatre-kid singing at times. Embarrassing, at least to people inclined to feel embarrassment (and tell people about it). 'Drift' builds to a big climax but I don't get swept up in the musical drama of it the way I do with, say, 'Guyute'...to my mind a way more effective composition with indescribably stupid lyrics. 'Guyute was the ugly pig...'? Fuck off. But I'd be happy hearing it every day of my life. Same with 'Cavern' and 'Stash.' ('Stash' pays off its inanities with a singalong and a big jam. 'Drift' too, of course.)

'Drift' does what it says on the tin -- it drifts like two friends in late middle-age, one dying, one wishing he wouldn't -- and it pushes against itself a little, the way Trey seems to. It has ideas, too many for a pop song and too few for a 13-minute tune apparently, but they give way -- just like Trey said they had to, back in his Specimens of Beauty interview in 2004 -- to the biggest idea. 'Communication,' though now he calls it 'love' and that's true too.

It doesn't matter to me how you feel about 'Drift While You're Sleeping.' I'd be happy never hearing it again, and I sigh when it starts. But it goes somewhere Trey didn't ever used to go, ever. Bravely too. It seems to me it's about being offered sorrow and choosing joy, and hearing it, that's what I feel. I can't speak for everyone who likes it (I'm not sure I'm one of them...?!) but the fact that they are unencumbered by something as small as embarrassment is surely healthy. Enviable. The four members of Phish have worked individually and collectively to overcome that interfering feeling in their creative work, but they obviously know what it feels like. A willingness to put it behind them and see what the fuck else is available -- well, that seems healthy too.

That said, it's nice to beat the rush to the exits. No one ever regretted doing that.


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