What's Done

Originally Performed ByTrey Anastasio
Appears On
HistorianTim Wade (TheEmu)
Last Update2015-05-28


For a period so full of grim messages, Trey Anastasio’s “What’s Done” may have the dubious honor of being the bleakest. The song plainly depicts our inability to change the past and our propensity to repeat our mistakes. Somber blues licks set the tone, and the first line simply states that “what’s done is done” and “can’t be undone.” Having admitted that we can’t turn back the clock, the next lyric urges us to do just that, to “undo what’s done, to make what’s new.” In other words, to achieve change, one must do the impossible. If the futility of this exercise isn’t plain enough, the next line erases all doubt, noting that “what’s to be today” will be the same as yesterday. There will be no change.

As “What’s Done” builds, a curious refrain appears, “Sing to be undo.” It could be a ray of hope, as the change to a major key suggests. Perhaps “to be undo” means that we can be the instrument of our own salvation, and can ultimately achieve what we thought was hopeless. On the other hand, the song ultimately collapses back into sadness and terminates in a sudden, dark, oppressive stroke. Maybe “to be undo” is a reference to self-destruction. In the end, “What’s Done” comes full circle, and though it struggles mightily, is unable to break free of its past.

Trey Anastasio Band, "What's Done" - 2/28/10 Knoxville, TN

“What’s Done” made its debut along with the 70 Volt Parade lineup, at Higher Ground on 4/1/05, in TABs second performance since Phish’s breakup. It was played frequently that spring, but was then absent for the next several tours. The song didn’t reappear until Fall 2006, once again seeing heavy rotation before being shelved for the brief run of shows in October 2008. But gloom doesn’t seem to fit well with the upbeat outlook of Trey’s post-Phish reunion work, and though “What’s Done” saw limited play in February 2010, it has been retired since.

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