The Relentless Communicator: The Elusive Ones

I hear this guy isn't into Phish festivals either.

Late Sunday night American forces stormed a compound in Abottabad, Pakistan, which resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden. While Bin Laden’s death will have dramatic repercussions to American foreign policy and politics, one thing is certain: it took the US government less time to track down Bin Laden than it has taken for you to catch the Phish songs you’ve been searching for.

A stretch, I know. Not to minimize the importance of what happened Sunday night by comparing it to Phish songs, but this column’s not going to write itself! So what songs have been so elusive that you’ve begun to assume that they were being harbored by the Pakastani government? Here are my big five, leave yours in the comments:

Mike’s Song – Alright, I’ve seen them play Mike’s Song. According to IHOZ’s stats, I’ve seen the band play Mike’s and Weekapaug 20 times. When the band left the stage at Coventry, they were the two songs that I’d heard played the most. Problem is, I last heard Mike’s at Coventry. In 10 shows since the comeback, I’ve caught zero Mike’s. In it’s place, I’ve seen 6 Hoods. Probably because I’ve repeatedly said, “I could see Hood at every show and be happy!” I’m going to keep my mouth shut these days. Too many Hoods, not enough Mike’s. First world problems, I know.

Alumni Blues – Of all the bust-outs from the pre-history of Phish, this is the one that I’d like to catch the most. Why? I just like the song. I can appreciate the rarity of Fuck Your Face, Dear Mrs. Reagan, Dave’s Energy Guide or Prep School Hippie. Seeing any one of those busted out would appeal to the setlist fetishist in me, but simply as a song, I think Alumni is superior. It really speaks to me, if only because I have two college degrees and no feet.

Buried Alive – This one is a classic Phish instrumental. To many phans, this is a throwaway tune best used as an opener, or not at all. Not to me. There’s something about the driving beat and the frenetic bass and guitar parts that just pumps me up. If the boys open one of the shows I catch this summer with Buried Alive, I will take it at a good sign. Buried Alive has made only two appearances since the big comeback, but here’s to hoping it begins popping up more often.

Dinner & a Movie – This one torments me, if only because it was one of the first Phish songs I ever remember hearing. It’s, uh, sparse lyrics are the sort of thing that Phish gets bashed for all the time, but the rest of this tune is like a steam locomotive: it will take you places. The version on the Woodbury Ski & Racket Club video got played so much in my house in college, those tracking lines became permanently etched on the tape. This tune has been permanently etched in my head since then, unfortunately it’s never been etched on the setlist of a show I attended. It doesn’t rear it’s head very often, but I hope I’m in the house the next time it does.

Col. Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird – This is the big one for me. Ever since the boys busted out Harpua at Star Lake in ’03, this has been the most elusive song in rotation for this phan. It’s the only one I lay awake at night thinking about. Obviously it would be great to have some narration, but I don’t even need that. Just the transition to Mockingbird will do, thanks. I groaned out loud in ’09 when I saw it come across my phone as I drove over to Maryland for the Merriweather Post show the next night. My sister and brother in law were in Hartford that night, and while they’ve seen plenty of shows that I haven’t, this is the only one that really burns me. I would have been elated at the Forbin’s. The second set’s legendary Psycho Killer > Catapault > Icculus > Sanity would’ve been fun too.

So this summer, when the band hits the road, and I hit the shows. Those five tunes are positioned at the top of my wish list. What songs are on yours?