|Originally Performed By||Phish|
|Historian||Martin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty)|
As Trey detailed in the Wall Street Journal article about the making of Big Boat, the Phish song “Miss You” is about his dearly departed sister Kristy. It is therefore a deeply personal piece for him, a song that he hopes will make us all reflect on our own lives and thereby allow it to serve as a universal connection between each of us. At this point in our lives, each of us has likely experienced the loss of a loved one whether it be through their death or simply the demise of the relationship. We all miss someone or something. We can relate.
Where missing out on something can be problematic is when a person who is not in attendance or live streaming the show where the song debuts (months ahead of the album being released), reads the setlist and naturally jumps to the conclusion that the fans attending the 6/24/16 Wrigley Field gig were lucky enough to hear the full band Phish take on the Rolling Stones classic from Some Girls. Was I alone in feeling a little upset that I had missed out on Phish playing “Miss You” for the first time? Unlikely. Thanks to the immediacy of the LivePhish experience, hearing what we had lost by our absence revealed an (un?)intentional case of being misled. This was an easy trick since the Stones’ track had previously been covered by both Fishman and Mike during separate solo outings in 2012 and 2014. Never forget that the band is fond of practical jokes.”Miss You” 6/24/16 Chicago, IL
The debut performance was successful in conveying the message of a pain that can linger. The gravity of the moment can be heard in the quiver of Trey’s voice. The nervous imprecision of fingers no doubt feeling the weight of the first presentation of something so deeply personal to a wider audience was evident. It takes great courage to share grief, even with close friends. The next two performances were late second set outpourings of emotion that predated (7/20/16 BGCA) and followed (10/15/16 North Charleston) the early October release of Big Boat. Of the two, the North Charleston performance was more notable; unfortunately because it seemed a little too grief-stricken. Despite the extremely well crafted and truly heartfelt studio version that lay between (thanks Bob!), this song had the appearance of something that may be too much for Trey to bear in the live setting. We all know it can be tough to do your job when you are overly emotional. This piece seemed too heavy for anyone to carry alone for very long.
Then the magic happened.
After a day long swirl of rumors and a fake out “Walking Blues” soundcheck, Bob Weir joined Phish on stage for the bulk of the second set of the 10/18/16 Ascend Amphitheater show in Nashville. “Samson and Delilah” was met with a triumphant roar. “Twist” stumbled out of the gate but got good and disjointed; simultaneously dark and light, casting shadows in the abyss. Just about the last thing anybody would expect to come next was the Phish song “Miss You”...much less with Bobby on vocals. Anybody claiming they did is trying to deal in alternate facts and nobody is buying. But it is a memory we share, that we will never forget. His old Yosemite Sam growl breathed life into the song. With Bobby taking over the (hugely forgivable because it’s not his song) forgetting the words role, Trey was free to focus on his fretting and could finally soar. We all know who they were talking about during the call and response “You’re EVERYWHERE!” chorus, right? In that one shining moment, the pressure was released.
“Miss You” belonged to us all now. The universal connection was made; but would it be sustained? The answer to that question was met with a resounding “YES!” during the second set of the 10/30/16 show at the MGM Grand. Trey sang the lyrics with confidence. Passion flowed from his fingers as he talked with his hands. Having been bestowed its wings (kind of a big deal...as you know), “Miss You” was able to ascend from the early grave into which it had been unceremoniously dumped, and rose like the phoenix. Again, a “thanks Bob!” is in order for showing the way into the light. It really can be in the strangest of places, you simply have to look at (and listen to) it right.”Miss You” 10/18/16 Nashville, TN
Though “Miss You” went AWOL from the Phish stage for the rest of 2016 and did not make it down to Mexico either, Trey has performed it twice. The first occasion, on 11/19/16 on the Prairie Home Companion stage with Chris Thile, Aoife O'Donovan, Rich Dworsky, Chris Eldridge, Brittany Haas, Paul Kowert, and Ted Poor, was imbued with a gorgeous back-country vibe and some cockle-warming supporting vocals. Unquestionably, it was the best version performed up to that point. The second Trey solo occurrence (3/8/17 Northampton) was certainly the most personal to date, being one of several Big Boat songs that was shared in the incredibly intimate setting of his three-night “Scalene Traverse of Shelburne Falls” acoustic tour. Trey wants to connect. Which just begs the question…”Hey, what’s the matter man? Let’s go mess and fool around...You know...like we used to.”Trey Anastasio “Miss You” 11/19/16 Denver, CO
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