“Scent of a Mule” dates from 1996 and has a very “old” quality, like the band doesn’t sound as full as normal (the vocals also have an unexpected country feel). There’s a bit of “Sunshine of Your Love” from the guitars while Page is doing an elaborate solo. Indeed there’s a lot of piano on this track—much more than usual (and some of it is crazy). There’s a Jewish music section done on both guitar and voice which abruptly ends when the song returns to “Scent”.
“You Enjoy Myself” is one of my favorite Phish songs. This version clocks in at almost 25 minutes. At around 21 minutes the song devolves into them making a bunch of silly rhythmic noises, which must be very fun to see. The next track is “The Landlady” (from 1993), a wonderful instrumental that morphs into “Tweezer” which has a pretty wild and raucous jam component. There’s also a repeated guitar motif (which I don’t recognize) that seems to be a cue for the band to do things (play loud and fast or really slow—including their impossibly slow rendition of The Simpsons theme song. It’s a neat trip.
The next track is “Mike’s Song.” It opens a 36 minute jam that devolves at around 18 minutes into real silliness with spacey effects and controlled laughter. At about 20 minutes, it morphs into the simple song “Contact” and eventually into “Weekapaug Groove.” Which starts in an unusual way—instead of Mike only playing the bass, the band joins the song in progress.
“Split Open and Melt” has some loud bass—I hadn’t really noticed the bass so much before, and in this version in particular Mike seems like maybe he’s mixed a little louder and he’s playing some really funky stuff (and making quite a few errors, it must be said). Next comes the silly “NO2″ (from 1999), which duplicates the effects of the record pretty well, and the guitar solo at the end of very pretty. “My Friend My Friend” is a pretty dark song but it starts with the very pretty guitar work until the minor keys take over. It slowly morphs into “McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters,” a lyrically insane but musically great song. Page gets a lot of solo time in this song, too.
The next song is “Twist” always a fun and energetic live track. There’s a very slow jam in the middle of the song (which in total is 29 minutes) before it turns into a very echoey “Slave to the Traffic Light.”
The next song is a nearly 20 minute, joyous “Free”. It morphs into a beautiful “What’s the Use” yet another or f Trey’s gorgeous rising melodies. “Axilla” is a fast almost punky version as is the near barbershop quartet riot of ”My Sweet One” which is the fastest I’ve heard it done. And “Run Like an Antelope” is as frenetic as I’ve heard it—the pace of this segment (from 1993!) is insane.
“David Bowie” begins but then pauses as Trey sings “Catapult” a short piece that I don’t think I’ve ever heard played before. Then “David Bowie” resumes for the remaining 10 or so minutes and it is a fast and furious cut as well. This great free set ends with a 15 minute “Divided Sky,” which sounds as good as ever.
Phish releases a lot of concerts, so it’s nice that they throw these free compilations to us once in a while.
[READ: October 15, 2012] “Puppy”
This story is included in George Saunders’ new collection Tenth of December. But since I was able to find it at the New Yorker, I figured I’d read it now (this means that of all of the stories in the collection I have only not read two).
This story is dark. Although it doesn’t seem so at first.
The story begins by looking at a married woman who has their two kids in the car with her. She is trying to get them interested in the beautiful autumnal day but they have heard it all before. And besides, her son is deeply engrossed in his video game Noble Baker “Not now, Mom, I’m Leavening my Loaves” (ha). Which is better than the game he wanted, Bra Stuffer. We go into the woman’s head and (at least in my case) pity her a little bit for trying so hard with kids who clearly aren’t interested. Like when she read the instructions to her son’s video game so she could offer him tips while he played (and he swats her away, but at least it is “affectionately”).
She keeps her spirits up. But every example seems more sad than nice. When she thinks about her husband who says “Ho HO!” to anything that comes up. Like all of the animals that they own, and how few of them are actually played with by the children.
The other day she spoke of their dog as a puppy and her daughter cried because she didn’t remember it. So of course she had to get them a new puppy. She saw an ad for a puppy and decided to go check it out.
Then we see the puppy seller. Callie’s life is far from perfect. Her son is wild, her husband is distant and they are stuck with unwanted animals. Her husband wanted to drown the kittens they had but couldn’t bring himself to do it. But he swears he will kill the puppy if Callie doesn’t sell it.
When the car pulls up, the family gets out and inspects the house (the mom is delighted at the white trashiness of it, as if the kids are now exposed to a new culture). As the mom looks around (there are turds on the floor and car parts on the kitchen table) she is bemused until she looks out the window. For there, Callie has tied up her son to a dog run. He seems happy throwing rocks at things, but he is still attached to the line. And the mom will have nothing to do with that.
Even though the puppy is adorable, and the kids swear they will take care of it, she cannot endorse this woman so she grabs her kids and they leave.
The end sees Cassie dealing with the dog so her husband doesn’t have to. And while we don’t actually see the end and sure hope things change, it doesn’t look good.
It’s an unpleasant story, but it’s an interesting look at two different lives converging.