Originally Performed BySyd Barrett
Original AlbumThe Madcap Laughs (1970)
Appears On
Music/LyricsSyd Barrett
Phish Debut1987-09-21
Last Played2019-12-04
Current Gap183
Recommended Versions1988-10-29, 1991-10-19, 1992-11-20, 1992-12-29, 1993-02-20, 1999-07-08, 2000-07-11, 2004-08-11
HistorianPhillip Zerbo (pzerbo)


In contrast to the spastic “Love You” and the schizophrenic “Bike,” “Terrapin” is a smooth ballad from the mind of Syd Barrett. To illustrate the restrained nature of this song relative to other Henrietta offerings, check out the version from 2/20/93, when Fish invited the crowd to imagine having a glass of wine and being “laid back.” He got so laid back while introducing band and crew that Page tried to move things along with a few notes of “Hold Your Head Up,” but Fish would have none of it. Other notable performances include 10/19/91 (Fish on trombone while his mother, Mimi, played the vacuum), 11/20/92 (“Terrapin” -> “Lengthwise”) and 12/29/92 (“the slowest version of this song ever performed on the face of the earth”). Debuted on 9/21/87, “Terrapin” was a regular in Henrietta’s arsenal through 1993, though sightings trailed off significantly thereafter.

In the latter half of the ‘90s, “Terrapin” became almost a threatened species, and every sighting was as interesting and notable as it was rare. It was dusted off for a performance on 7/11/96 in London, and then disappeared again for several years. At Lemonwheel, Fish appeared ready to treat the crowd as he alluded to “a love song about a turtle” before bailing in favor of “Sexual Healing.” After a 212-show absence, “Terrapin” returned on 7/8/99 to the Virginia Beach Amphitheater. This appearance created an odd symmetry: Phish also performed a “Terrapin” encore at their previous visit to that venue on 8/9/98, though of course that was the Grateful Dead classic “Terrapin Station.” On 7/11/00 at Deer Creek, “Terrapin” provided another layer of Fishman cheese to the six-layer "Moby Dick" sandwich; you MUST hear this show!

The final appearance of "Terrapin" was a classic. On 8/11/04 at Great Woods, mere days before the end of Phish as we knew it at the time, "Terrapin" would fill the final "Phish 2.0" Henrietta slot. Right before the song began, Trey pretended to throw his guitar into the crowd, offering that he "won't be needing this anymore," an assertion that elicited a loud crowd chorus of "boos!" After Fishman finished "Terrapin" Trey conducted a poll as to whether the Fishman song "Made a show, or destroyed a show." Do yourself a favor and check the recordings for the poll results, as they are hysterical! At a time when mixed feelings all around the band and crowd, this sequence (including the subsequent Drums Jam) represented just one of many bittersweet moments in a long love affair that was, at the time, thought to be coming to a crashing end. 

Thanks to the recuperative powers of the human spirit, while "Terrapin" has remained in its shell to date in 3.0, slowly yet surely, Phish rolls on...

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