Phish Friday | Lemonwheel Highlights, Part I

photo by 5stringbassplayer

A while back, Live Music Blog friend and occasional Phish Friday poster, Stanley T. Roper, made me a CD compilation of the “Best of Lemonwheel.” The discs featured a bunch of highlights from Phish’s 1998 festival extravaganza up in Limestone, Maine. I always loved those discs, and although I can’t remember their exact tracklistings, I distinctly remember listening to one of them and re-discovering a certain segment on a beautiful Sunday morning back when we lived in Boston:

Phish – Gumbo – 8/15/98 > [mp3] Phish – Sanity – 8/15/98 [mp3]

(mp3’s removed — sorry!)

I was groggily waking up from a long Saturday-night and Stan, my lady, and I were all getting ready to walk to our favorite local diner. As I was getting dressed, I had Stanley T’s Lemonwheel mix playing and my ears suddenly locked into this seriously funky version of “Gumbo” — a tune I never really even thought of as a typical Phish “jam” vehicle. I called Stan into the room to take another listen.

The funk was deep and dark, with Mike Gordon laying down some seriously meaty bass lines. It was patent Phish funk, yet it hadn’t moved on completely from the “Gumbo” sound. But then, like so many great Phish jams, out of the dark came the light. Trey started working in a more major-chord progression that triumphantly moved the song out of the dark funk into a distinctly rockin’ change in mood. He eventually locked into an even lighter two-chord rock groove, and as the band allowed the song to dissipate, he dropped into the chords of a truly old-school song from the band’s catalog: “Sanity.”

Something about Jon Fishman’s marching-band beat and the goofy lyrics just made us laugh and smile. As we headed out the door, we just couldn’t stop repeating the silly lyric, “Stars Suck!” Now, any time I hear this song segment or “Sanity” on its own, I am instantly taken back to that sunny Sunday morning…and I smile.

Have a great weekend!

WHITperson -- aka Marc Whitman or simply "Whit" -- is a long-time LMB contributor known for his in-depth posting style and his knack for crafting interesting podcasts. Whit currently resides in Brooklyn, where he's building up his web development chops and hoping to put his technical skills towards something interesting in the music world. Follow his updates over at


  1. In an odd confluence of your last two posts, Whitperson, I just played the Phish Friday songs via my Recently Added playlist in iTunes… When Sanity came to a close, a song from Coconut Records (Jason Schwartzman’s solid new project) that I had DLed from eMusic last night called “Ask Her To Dance” came on… with my 4 second fade it made a pretty seamless segue from Sanity… I was in the other room and thought to myself, “Wow, I’ve never heard Phish do THAT before..” Turns out they didn’t… but my iTunes decided that IT could jam too! FWIW…

  2. man, i haven’t listened to this gumbo in years. stars suck, but the gumbo is fantastic. while i’m at it, let me give a plug for andy’s diner on mass ave in porter square, cambridge mass. the lighting is depressing as all hell, and don’t even bother trying a substitution. but they can cook a denver omelette like a mofo, and the coffee is always fresh.

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