Big Balls

Originally Performed ByAC/DC
Original AlbumDirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976)
Music/LyricsAngus Young, Malcolm Young, Bon Scott
Phish Debut2011-07-03
Last Played2011-07-03
Current Gap419
HistorianMartin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty)
Last Update2011-07-05


Scrotal Elephantiasis, a disease typically marked by swelling of the scrotum to the size of a basketball, has both parasitic and non-parasitic origins. In its parasitic form, elephantiasis is caused by filariasis, an infection of the lymphatic system spread by mosquitoes, the larvae of at least three different varieties of round worms, the mosquitoes transmit between infected humans, and the bacteria the worms carry. The non-parasitic variety of elephantiasis, affecting primarily the feet rather than the scrotum, is known as “bigfoot disease” or podoconiosis and is thought to be caused by persistent contact with irritant soils: in particular, red clays rich in alkali metals such as sodium and potassium and associated with volcanic activity. Lymphatic filariasis affects over 120 million people, primarily in Africa and South-East Asia, with about 40 million disfigured and incapacitated by the disease. Areas of high prevalence for podoconiosis have been documented in Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia. The worst impacted is Ethiopia, where up to 6% of the population is affected in endemic areas. Whether the cause is parasitic or non-parasitic, a common treatment for Enlarged Scrotum Syndrome (ESS) or “Big Balls” is to thoroughly cleanse the affected area. The standard tour remedy when there is a thunder down under probably won’t cut it in this case.

AC/DC, “Big Balls” – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Of course, one cannot speak of the thunder from down under without thinking of AC/DC, the Australian heavy-metal masters of the double entendre. Perhaps the finest example of their lyrical wit is the Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap track “Big Balls.” Bon Scott was apparently very proud of his, and was just itching to tell us about them. Written and recorded by Scott and the brothers Young during early 1976, the album was first released later that year in only Australia and New Zealand. Although a version was released in the United Kingdom in 1977, the international version would not make it to the United States until 1981, following on the success of Highway to Hell and Back in Black. This international version of Dirty Deeds has been certified platinum six times and “Big Balls” one of two singles from the album (“Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” being the other) reached as high as #26 on the Billboard chart.

Phish exposed their “Big Balls” in the most appropriate fashion possible by reaching into their “AC/DC Bag” for the fourth time (having previously covered “Highway to Hell,” “You Shook Me All Night Long,” and a portion of “Hells Bells”) to open the final set of SuperBall IX (7/3/11). Performed with tongue firmly planted in cheek, as evidenced by Fish being awarded the vocal duties, “Big Balls” was a fitting tribute to balls past (Third, Clifford, and Udder), present (Super), and future (Bucky). Although not a true “Big Ball Jam” the release of many large balloons into the crowd during “Big Balls” could be considered a tease of the long-shelved improvisational gag.

Phish, “Big Balls” – 7/3/11, Watkins Glen, NY

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