Guelah Papyrus

Originally Performed ByPhish
Appears On
VocalsTrey (lead), Mike, Page (backing)
Phish Debut1991-02-01
Last Played2022-07-22
Current Gap61
HistorianJeremy Welsh (jwelsh8)
Last Update2019-06-10


At the Great American Music Hall on 10/18/91, Trey gave a brief explanation of “Guelah Papyrus.” “This is a song about a Mother,” he confesses. Trey then continues to explain that when he was younger and hanging out with Tom Marshall and Dave Abrahams, Dave’s mother – whose name was Geulah (pronounced the same as Guelah) – would knock on the door to his bedroom, come in, and pull Dave out into the hallway, spoiling all the fun they were having. Hence the lines, “And through the bedroom door intrude / A fretful frown and spoil the mood.” 

“Guelah Papyrus” – 3/27/92, Charlotte, NC

During the interlude between “The Asse Festival,” and “Guelah (The Fly),” the band often inserts a pause. A rather humorous instance of this occurred at the 10/7/94 Bethlehem, PA gig, where the band decides to take an extra long pause. Trey takes full advantage of the silence by slipping in some banter, thanking everyone for coming to the show, and reminding them that they are going to debut a new tune later in the evening. (The song that was debuted? A certain ditty about a pig who danced a jig.) Speaking of jigs, there is the dance that goes along with this song, performed by Trey and Mike. It involves a knee lifting, hopping, and a swinging motion, pitting perfectly with the beat.

“Guelah Papyrus” consists of three distinct sections – “Guelah Papyrus,” “The Asse Festival,” and “Guelah (The Fly).” Despite one last solitary performance of “The Asse Festival” at the Capitol Theater on 4/27/91, these three sections have not been played separately since the trio’s initial performance. 

“Guelah Papyrus” – 7/30/14, Portsmouth, VA

Since its February 1991 debut, “Guelah Papyrus” has become a favorite original over the years, and more recently, a relative rarity. “Guelah” regularly appeared at shows from 1991 to 1994 before steadily allowing more time to lapse between each performance. 1995 through 1997 saw only a handful of “Guelah” performances. At the Hampton Coliseum in 1998, fans were treated to a super tight rendition, forever engraved in Phish history on Hampton Comes Alive. After a short period in 2010 and early 2011 when “Guelah” was in modest rotation it has reverted to an only occasional offering (see 8/15/12 Long Beach, 9/1/13 Dick’s or 7/30/14 Portsmouth)

Trey has performed “Guelah” several times outside of Phish shows (see, e.g., 2/19/11), each time solo as part of an acoustic set.

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