On the Road Again

Originally Performed ByWillie Nelson
Original AlbumSingle (1980)
Music/LyricsWillie Nelson
VocalsTrey, Page, Mike
Phish Debut2013-08-31
Last Played2017-08-06
Current Gap123
HistorianElayne Best (jugglerswithfire)
Last Update2013-09-25


“On the Road Again” was made famous of course by non other than the author, poet, actor, activist, singer and songwriter Willie Nelson. The song was written by Nelson in 1980 as the theme song for the film Honeysuckle Rose. The movie stars Nelson as his character faces the temptations of life on the road, trying to make it as a country singer.

Willie Nelson, “On the Road Again”

“On the Road Again” has quite a legacy. It has not only been inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame, but it also won Willie a Grammy in 1981, hit #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles, is covered by countless artists in virtually every genre, and enjoys a legendary status in the U.S. as well as global recognition.

In the summer of 2006, Trey and Mike were joined by Marco Benevento and Joe Russo to form “G.R.A.B.” on a summer shed tour shared with Phil Lesh & Friends. This was the first full tour with Mike and Trey since Phish called it quits in 2004, and when that tour stopped at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on 7/16/06, “On the Road Again” was a perfect fit for the occasion. Each of the four performances of the song on that tour (also 7/187/19 and 7/20) featured Trey on acoustic guitar and Mike on banjo (the 7/19 Cleveland show is available as a LivePhish download).

Phish has played over 260 covers in addition to their own extensive catalogue, yet they would be 30 years deep into their career before the debut of this legendary song on 8/31/13 at Dick’s, before which Trey delivered a heartfelt message of thanks to all the fans. 

Phish, “On the Road Again” – 8/31/13, Commerce City, CO

Phish’s 2013 summer tour was truly challenging, and shared challenges make you stronger and closer; whatever obstacles present themselves, you insist that “the world keep turning our way." What better way to celebrate the close of this summer tour that presented so many challenges than to play a Grammy Hall of Fame song with a carefree message of the desire to be on the road traveling like a band of gypsies, having new experiences, loving life, and making music with your friends. The audience and band synergy to close out a unifying summer tour was a priceless moment in Phish history. It was a blissful experience watching Trey, Page, and Mike each take a verse, while Fish kept the quintessential train beat of the song rolling. 

Let’s hope that the band felt the same connection and energy I know many in the crowd did that night, and they include this gem more frequently in the rotation.

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