ThunderBurn on January 27, 2012 13:53


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    Tags: phish

    Hi everyone,
    I know Tom is writing these blurbs, but I wanted to write one. Tom and I have been writing and four-tracking together for over thirty years now, and I have so many incredible memories of our adventures: I could probably fill a book writing about them. One of my favorites is about the songs Farmhouse and Bug.
    In the nineties Tom and I began renting houses in the Stowe area of Vermont and disappearing for long weekends to hang out together and write. To be perfectly honest, the hanging out part was even more important to me than the writing. With Phish's exponential growth in the mid nineties came a whirlwind of confusion and frantic energy that I don't think any of us in the band were completely prepared for. Our quiet little scene in Burlington and on the road exploded. Suddenly the idea of hiding out alone for three days and nights on a farm with one of my oldest friends became a precious idea that I anxiously looked forward to for weeks in advance of our trips. At that time I had neither a cell phone nor a computer, so when we disappeared, we really disappeared.
    Farmhouse was written and recorded in the first five minutes of one of those trips. I picked up Tom at the airport in this cool old 1970's RV that I had bought that had an eight track player in it, and we drove to the farmhouse we had rented. It was kind of late since Tom had left from work, and we pulled over for a second and jumped out next to a field. When we looked up at the sky, it was exploding with these deep greenish colors that we soon realized were the northern lights. We stood there and just stared in awe. We continued on, and found our house down a long secluded dirt road. We walked in and I ran over to the gear and picked up a guitar while Tom plugged in a Mic. there were some sliding glass doors that we opened, and though it wasn't as intense as it had been when we pulled over, we could still see traces of the northern lights thru the door. Mostly, we were both buzzing from that magical feeling of being completely alone, and knowing that we didn't have to talk to or see a single soul for three whole days and nights, which to both of us was heaven.
    I started strumming and Tom started singing, and since he didn't have any lyrics, he reached over and grabbed the note that the owner of the house had left for us and began reading it, verbatim.
    "Welcome! This is a farmhouse, we have cluster flies, alas, and this time of year is bad..."
    And on it went from there. I love the chorus, "I never ever saw the northern lights, I never really heard of cluster flies!"
    After that I quickly constructed all the instruments. I will always to this day believe that this version of Farmhouse is the perennial version, mostly because of the genuine joy in Tom's inspired and spontaneous vocal. Also, for the record, of course we immediately recognized that it sounded similar to "No woman no cry", and sort of threw that "be all right" thing in specifically for that reason, amidst the frenzy of laughing and singing. It felt like the perfect sentiment for our escape. "in the farmhouse things will be alright".
    I don't think Tom and I have ever written a single song for any reason other than to entertain ourselves. We don't really think about the fact that anyone will ever hear this stuff. It's in the moment. If we took the time to think about it more, we would probably edit ourselves into submission, and take a lot of the joy and spontaneity out of the songs. I know for a fact that if Tom had his way, "Yanked on my tunic and dangled my stash" would not be in the public consciousness. Personally, I happen to love that line. -Trey.
    [TOM'S note: I added the "alas", that wasn't on the note. No one has written "alas" -- and meant it -- since the 19th century. Some of the songs I'm posting, this one included, were released in 2000 on a CD of 25 demos that Trey and I recorded in 1997 called "Trampled by Lambs and Pecked by the Dove" which is available on Also...Trey didn't write much about Bug, so I'll release that if/when he writes another "blurb"...or I'll write one...soon!]


    2 timed comments and 28 regular comments

    • Ayna Nordbø
    • japov
      japov at 1.49 on January 29, 2012 19:54

      The Grateful Dead would be proud!! :-)

    • stephensharrison
      stephensharrison on January 29, 2012 05:59

      Reading the liner notes of Trampled by Lambs and Pecked by the Dove when it was first released, I had a memory rip from the depths as I made a connection in time.

      On what has to be the same night you guys saw the northern lights, I was on the way home from dinner in Middlebury with a group of friends I was teaching with at the time. We caught a glimpse of the lights through the trees and pulled over at the next place we could. All of us were astonished at how bright they were. Whenever I hear Farmhouse I'm right back on the side of the road in Vermont, watching those green lights shimmer and dance.

    • user7415120
      user7415120 on January 29, 2012 01:39

      Great story, thanks for sharing.

      ZZYZX Steinberg may be the only person using 'alas' in every five written sentences contains one!

    • BOAF1
      BOAF1 on January 28, 2012 13:49

      Thanks for shedding light on Stash, that's hilarious....What's Pebbles & Marbles about?

    • PeterRogen-5D conscious
      PeterRogen-5D conscious on January 28, 2012 12:24

      Hi Trey! Ohh, the personal connections just keep growing...your words are grounding and comfortable. We are all blessed to get to feel closer to the music we love, thanks...Can't wait to hear about Bug you amazing muppet of a musician :) There is so much light in your future.

    • chrislane
      chrislane on January 28, 2012 06:05

      trey, we love hearing from you. i can't wait for the next song-story. thanks.

    • tmwsiy
      tmwsiy on January 28, 2012 04:04

      great it

    • Four Foot Flood
      Four Foot Flood on January 28, 2012 02:59

      Tom.....Trey.......Thank you. The blurbs have been as enjoyable as the songs. If you promise to keep writing more, I promise to keep reading and listening. Alas, there is nothing more to be said.

    • phish_head
      phish_head on January 28, 2012 01:43

      Fantastic story Trey and Tom!! Thanks for sharing. And while we’re at it, thanks for all of the memories you have created for me in my life over the last 20 years. Truly appreciate everything you guys do and how powerful an impact you have had on me. See you this summer!!

    • Steven Dolley
      Steven Dolley on January 28, 2012 00:34

      Thanks for sharing the story Trey and Tom, and happy new year. Farmhouse always makes me nostalgic. Trey mon -- Remember our Williston house ca 1986? It's now an industrial park, alas

    • anniepletz
      anniepletz on January 27, 2012 22:44

      love this story as well as, both of your wildly entertaining minds. you goofballs are so great.

    • arubess
      arubess on January 27, 2012 21:24

      <3 Trey & Tom ... this is awesome, thank you!

    • willb483
      willb483 on January 27, 2012 21:03

      Trey and Tom, thanks for sharing and thanks for the memories. Personally, I happen to love that line as well.

    • TimberJeremy
      TimberJeremy on January 27, 2012 21:02

      All of these blurbs put a huge smile on my face, especially this one so please keep it up. "I could probably fill a book writing about them." that would be great hahah im looking forward for the story behind Bug. Farmhouse is my favorite album, it brings back many memories from when i was a kid.

    • standback42
      standback42 on January 27, 2012 19:49

      Awesome stuff :)

      Trey if you're reading this - phish and everything about phish is and always will be my biggest inspiration. It's so cool to hear stories about where all this stuff came from! more more more more

    • The Great Quux
      The Great Quux on January 27, 2012 18:33

      Hey Tom - I own Trampled by Lambs and would love to have another CD full of demos. I love hearing those kind of moments crystallized and that's why I also love listening to The White Tape and One Man's Trash. Go take another trip with Trey and write more songs. :)

    • SuperDi
      SuperDi on January 27, 2012 17:55

      Magical timing as usual Tom, Trey and Phish! My boyfriend and I are buying our first house next week which we have affectionately named our "Farmhouse" (it's stucco and not a farmhouse at all). We love opening the door and saying "Welcome this is our farmhouse" as our non-phan visitors walk in with puzzled looks. Thanks for sharing your love and meaning behind your farmhouse! Brightened my day :)

    • Atara Thomas
    • KPartWalsh
      KPartWalsh on January 27, 2012 17:02

      I think Tom has a very different opinion of that "cool old 1970's RV"

    • CatToysNeedNames
      CatToysNeedNames on January 27, 2012 16:30

      I stumbled upon this page after googling the word 'alas'. Apparently, this is the only place on the internet in which it's used.

      Anyway, awesome story! Thanks for the insight into song writing and the cool tracks. Keep it coming!

    • kipconner
      kipconner on January 27, 2012 15:39

      I'm glad that I'm not the only one who thinks Phish is just about the "Jam". While the jam is a big part of it- you need bread at the very least to make a good sandwich. I mean, really. Who eats spoonfuls of Jam out of the jar? I've seen it done with peanut butter- but not jam.

    • gralls
      gralls on January 27, 2012 15:32

      Trey, please do tell us about Bug! And thanks for sharing this story. Heading to Vermont this weekend and this got me even more excited.

    • Adam Pensel
      Adam Pensel on January 27, 2012 15:12

      Thanks for sharing. Love hearing these stories. :)

    • Tom Meyer
      Tom Meyer on January 27, 2012 15:02

      No one has written "alas" -- and meant it -- since the 19th century. - Laughed so hard. Love it.

    • cyruspapyrus
      cyruspapyrus on January 27, 2012 14:53

      Thanks for sharing the story. Great tune. The Trampled by Lambs album is so good.

    • Green Feather
      Green Feather on January 27, 2012 14:46

      so great! and I LOVE Trampled by Lambs and still listen to it quite often! thanks for sharing!

    • alexrogo
      alexrogo on January 27, 2012 14:24

      Thanks guys for sharing this!

    • Randy Kline
      Randy Kline on January 27, 2012 14:19

      Thanks for posting this. I have always wondered where these lyrics came from.

    • user1762101
      user1762101 on January 27, 2012 14:03

      Awesome info Trey and Tom - keep it coming!

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