How can niche can we go with the mixtape we make together? I posed this existential question by throwing out to the Middle Tennessee fans of the (now classic rock) band Phish, “What are your favorite songs they cover? What do you hope to catch this weekend?” I gleefully received dozens of replies/requests and fit in 13 songs during the official #ThematicStatic hour, first aired on Phish Weekend Eve and then again just before Phish took the stage at Bridgestone on night two of their three-night run here in Nashville.
Stream the original songs Phish covers here at the archive (👇). Leave us a request each week on the socials @WNXPNashville, or by recording your own voice at wnxp.org/feedback and/or dialing 615-320-9100!
#ThematicStatic Playlist – 10/5/23
The Rolling Stones – “Loving Cup” — Taylor D. and Rachel both requested this “beautiful buzz” from Exile On Main Street, which Phish covered in full on Halloween in 2009 (more Halloween “musical costumes” made the mix). Phish dipped into another track from the beloved ’72 Stones record when they bust out “Torn and Frayed,” last played in 2021, on Friday night.
Apples in Stereo – “Energy” — What, you didn’t know Phish pays tribute to weird Elephant 6 collective indie rockers in addition to the British Invasion bands? Now you know. Mad respect to Trey Anastasio’s daughter, Bella, for introducing him to this track (from the Apples in Stereo 2007 record New Magnetic Wonder) that Phish then started covering in 2013. It’s only been played 10 times, making this one of the rarer Phish covers on the list. Thanks, James on Instagram, for the request!
Jimmy Martin – “Hold Whatcha Got” — I absolutely loved Bucky’s recorded memory of seeing bluegrass legends here in Middle Tennessee guesting with Phish in 2000. That night in Antioch was the only time they’ve ever covered this song.
Talking Heads – “Crosseyed and Painless” – Kevin here in Nashville and Cassie, who lives in NYC, both requested this one from Remain In Light: Talking Heads’ 1980 masterpiece covered in full by Phish on Halloween 1996. (Songs from Remain in Light were also made visual in the “Stop Making Sense” concert film recently revived, remastered and currently in theaters.) Phish didn’t play this one from Talking Heads in Nashville, but they did drop “Cities” from TH’s 1979 record Fear of Music on Saturday night.
The Velvet Underground – “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’” — Kevin requested this final track from the Velvets’ record Loaded, which Phish played in full on Halloween 1998. The band has only played this tune five more times since then, and not at all in the last decade, so “Oh! Sweet Nuthin'” would be a proper bust-out. Alas, not this run, Kev!
Prince – “1999″ — As they are occasionally very “on the nose,” Phish played this song in New York on New Year’s Eve 1998. (Greg corrected the record after I read his email about NYE 1999 and the Y2K panic. It’s OK, Greg, I don’t remember 1998 from 1999 all that well, either!) Jade had requested “Purple Rain,” another Prince classic covered by Phish.
Dry Bread – “Ya Mar” –– They played this one Sunday, and it had to be for Martha Ann (“Mar”), who’d successfully talked herself into Phish night 3. Nekos also requested this one on Instagram.
“2001” a.k.a. “Also Sprach Zarathustra” — I played the original film score composition for “2001: A Space Odyssey,” which Phish makes super funky…exactly like they did to open their 2001st show on Saturday at Bridgestone, and they wove the instrumental song’s main theme throughout the whole first set.
The Who – “5:15″ — Rory in NYC said this was the Phish cover that got him into the band, perhaps resistant up to that point. Phish’s second Halloween musical costume in 1996 was covering Quadrophenia in full.
The Osborne Brothers – “Rocky Top” — Rodney and Patrick both asked for this, which would’ve been fitting in the capital of The Volunteer State, but nooooo. Phish has played this more than 200 times since their early Vermont bar band days in the late ’80s, including once in Knoxville in 1996, and at Bonnaroo in 2012. But never in Nashville.
Son Seals – “Funky Bitch” – Nicholas and Briana piped up to name this song, a blues tune made great by Phish with bassist Mike Gordon on vocals.
Stevie Wonder – “Boogie On Reggae Woman” – I can’t not get down to this one. NIcholas agreed.
The Beatles – “A Day In The Life” — Melissa curated the perfect set (and playlist) closer with this one, which Phish has tackled since 1995, but haven’t included on a set since 2019.
Thanks for all the phans that answered my call on socials (and in-person) to contribute requests to this mix! Sorry I couldn’t get them all into an hour but ask nicely and I just might play these again on a future morning.