Here‘s Trey Anastasio with a nice piece of writing on the original Farmhouse demos (including a beautiful early recording with Tom Marshall handling vocals during one of their long weekend hang sessions in a rented house somewhere in northern Vermont). The joy in Tom’s voice is awesome.
The backstory is a classic bit of Phish arcana from one of the band’s great peaks, 1999-2000. This album was one of the first things that really got me into Phish only a few years later, and it’s still arguably the most habitable entry point for anyone interested in taking a global pandemic as an excuse to spend some serious time diving headlong into that goofy-ass rock band your pal Eric is always talking about. Here’s Trey:
“I started strumming and Tom started singing, and since he didn’t have any lyrics, he reached over and grabbed the note that the owner of the house had left for us and began reading it, verbatim.
“’Welcome! This is a farmhouse, we have cluster flies, alas, and this time of year is bad…’
“And on it went from there. I love the chorus, ‘I never ever saw the northern lights, I never really heard of cluster flies!'”
Anyway, here we are: digging through the music we love as weather patterns tilt and bend outside out window. Crisis everywhere. My favorite version of the song that I’ve seen live was 12/30/17, deep in the second set, as Madison Square Garden zipped through outer space. And for all I know, we’re still at the show, grooving hard in sepia tone and drifting closer to the new year, the fourth turning of some great cosmic story we can’t yet know.