Originally Performed ByTrey Anastasio
Appears On
HistorianTim Wade (TheEmu)
Last Update2015-05-21


There is a unique pain that comes from the ugly end of a once beautiful relationship.  It’s more than just loss; there is great turmoil in trying to resolve how one person can simultaneously evoke feelings of love and bitterness.  This conflict is captured perfectly in the Trey song “Black,” where the speaker tries to hold on to “all that was good” once the story “ends in darkness.”  It would at least be easier if one could, as the chorus proclaims, “just let it slip away.”  But these emotions in opposition, longing and anger, conspire to keep the pain fresh, so that “to see you now” isn’t just sad, it’s “black.”

The song was written after the 2004 break up of Phish, which fractured relationships both personal and professional.  According to Trey, in Parke Puterbaugh’s Phish: The Biography, “‘Black’ was actually a response to a particular conversation I had with one person.  I was having a lot of them at the time, ‘cause people were mad so they were taking this chance, you know -- ‘Okay, now you’re letting me go.  Well, I’ve been wanting to say this to you for the last ten years anyway, you fucking asshole’ -- stuff like that.  A lot of people worked for us up in Burlington.  I had this one conversation with somebody that was just really harsh.  Something somebody was unloading on me, which I was getting about twenty of those a day.  I just went home and it was just like boom, wrote the whole thing” (250).

”Black” Trey Anastasio Band - 2/19/11, Albany, NY

The internal chaos described in the lyrics is matched by the turbulent guitar solo that was the song’s hallmark during its six performances on the 70 Volt Parade 2005 Spring tour.  With that tour’s end, though, “Black” was quickly shelved and didn’t reappear until 2/19/11, with Trey on acoustic guitar, Ray on keys, and Natalie and Jen providing backing vocals.  This arrangement, while simple and pretty, fails to capture the emotional clash that characterized the original versions, and “Black” has been played only one time since.

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