After months of living under a shadow of doubt Phish has lifted the darkness with a tour announcement and now the question becomes, what will be the first song of 4.0?
Down With Disease
“Waiting for the time when I can finally say, that this has all been wonderful but now I'm on my way”
Wonderful is a word that is clearly defined not in the letters that constitute it, but more by the way it is spoken. For instance, on a nature hike, you might see two deer frolicking in a meadow and say “wonderful” or you might be halfway through your walk and it starts pouring rain. This could prompt a different sounding “wonderful”. The original intent in Down With Disease seems to clearly be the latter. A sarcastic way to say goodbye to a physical ailment. Let's look at both ways it can be interpreted and how it applies to the 2021 opener in Arkansas.
The more melancholy version is where we start. This has been one of the hardest years imaginable. The loss of life is so devastating it is hard to fathom. Loss of jobs and separation from family and friends has been so hard. You can understand saying that “this has all been wonderful, but now I'm on my way” to this time in our lives.
You can also look at it through another lens. In many ways, this year has been wonderful in its original meaning. New friends and opportunities were made in new ways. Family became closer as time around the house became unavoidable. Life slowed down and what was important came to the fore.
Down With Disease is a perfect opener for a new era. So many legendary sets have been opened with this upbeat rocker. Why not one more? When a thousand barefoot children are outside dancing on that lawn in Arkansas, we may not be all the way back to normal, but we will be on our way.
"Approach the night with caution…"
While most are thinking "Sigma Oasis", "Dinner and a Movie", or even my man Phammer's pick of "DWD", I for one have noticed after all of these years that this band rarely does what we think they will do. This is why I am a firm believer that "Evening Song" is the perfect comeback opener. Only played twice previously by the band, it's a cautionary tale that seems most fitting.
"... and the worst days are gone. So now the band plays on..."
Now that everyone has the opportunity to get vaccinated and we are returning to a semblance of normal, it is truly time to Blaze On. So get your nice shades on, the worst days are gone. Given the limited human interactions most have had in the last year, we are all gonna screw up once, and probably two more times. But we’ll be dancin’ in the field as the band plays on. We have one life so let’s blaze on.
"...glad, glad, glad that you're alive."
I am going with a rarity from long ago as opposed to the more obvious answers. Glide, the opening notes would be like a speed bump before you hit an old school groove. The lyrics are a story of survival and the joy that we made it through. Can you imagine, the crowds voices rising in woos and hollers before we all sing together, ‘We’re glad, glad, glad that you’ve arrived / Glad, glad, glad that you're alive”