Thoughts Out on the Page: The Henrietta Code

I’m going to keep it short and sweet this week because I, like most of you, am too obsessed with the upcoming Leg II/Watkins dates to really think about anything else. While I am confident that there will be an announcement before next week’s post, I really have nothing in the way of news, rumors or even irresponsible speculation to disseminate, and am therefore hesitant to ask much of your time and attention span.

However, I can offer up one bit of lyrical solace that has helped me, and may be of some help to you as well, in these uncertain times. Sometimes life can seem cryptic and difficult, like a puzzle with three pieces missing or a shoe where the lace is really long on one side and really short on the other side. While some people will instinctively gravitate towards institutions that promise affirmation and meaning—religion, government, Charlie Sheen—I head toward the other direction. I seek out the most abstract, irreverent, inane words I can find and listen to them over and over until the world suddenly begins to make sense to me again. That’s right, I listen to the songs of Jon Fishman.

Calling Fishman’s lyrics inane is far from an insult. Fishman is a member of a lyric-writing school I am rather fond of, which I refer to as the “Stop Making Sense” school of lyrics in honor of the great David Byrne. Talking Heads, along with Frank Zappa, Subterranean Homesick Blues era Bob Dylan and many others, wrote lyrics that felt like the consciousness stream of a highly imaginative yet schizophrenic and/or psychotropic-drug-induced homeless man.

Fishman’s lyrics, especially in Tube and Gumbo but elsewhere as well, carry on that noble tradition. While many Phish songs penned by Trey and Tom contain abstraction, even their most avant garde compositions like Stash and Cavern have some semblance of meaning behind them (both involve a dangerous adventure at least). Not so for Fishman’s songs, where the discursive imagery is so formless that one could transpose virtually any meaning he wants onto them. The individual images are certainly vivid and enjoyable in their own right—as their many sign-wielding fans could testify—but anyone who claims to understand what the songs are about, or to have uncovered the exact messages or stories contained within, is not someone I would trust to hold my dry-cleaning receipt.

At least, that’s what I thought. That is until this past week, when all the craziness from the various tweets and forums and facebook pages I’d been stalking finally pushed me to the breaking point, and in an effort to hold onto my sanity I dove head first into some of my favorite Fishman lyrics. Suddenly, like a flash of light from up above, it hit me: There is a message to these lyrics that’d been there all along. A very clear and beautiful message that I’ve finally uncovered. Take a look:

There’s a mouse staring out of the window
His car is trapped in the snow
He’s planning a family vacation
But he just can’t go

Hmm…mouse…vacation. Very interesting…

We can stage a runaway golfcart marathon
From the hills…
From the hills…

Golf and hills…where do they have both of those?

Made me think I would not be burned
but rather give myself to science
I felt that I could help
To science, I felt that I can help

Isn’t there a group that claims to use science to help “hot” people (or celebrities) if they are willing to “give themselves” to the organization?

Robert Palmer is implored to dance, to dance, to dance
It’s so stupendous, living is this tube

Oh my God, Robert Palmer used to play with Duran Duran, who was signed to Hollywood Records! Could it be!?!

To put forth a cloud of mercury
he was run over by a car
on a freeway in Los Angeles
once the spraying has been done

Yes! It all suddenly makes sense!

Think about it: Mickey Mouse, Scientology, Golf, the Hills…HOLLYWOOD! And, of course, the infamous Los Angeles Freeway. What’s it all add up to?


You won't have any trouble sneaking your bowl into this venue! Eh! Ehhhhhh! (sigh)

Don’t believe me? Try this on for size: This August, right after Phish would be out west, the Hollywood Bowl is hosting a three night live performance of Fantasia. You heard me, fucking Fantasia! That’s why Mickey is staring out the window—he’s praying for that epic ASIHTOS he’s always been chasing (Mickey’s a huge 2.0 fan)!

So you heard it here first, from the words of The Bob Weaver himself, Phish is definitely playing the Hollywood Bowl this summer. Or not. Frankly, I don’t give a shit anymore. I just want some dates so I can start planning my summer! PLEASE Phish, or Watkin’s Glenn president guy (I’m sorry I said you look like a douche in your twitter picture), or Trey’s wife, or whoever the fuck calls the shots over there…PLEASE give us the dates already! Because I really don’t know how much more of this I can take.