My Top 1000 Songs #190: You Enjoy Myself

Arguably Phish's defining song, dating back to their 1989 debut Junta, "You Enjoy Myself" is a pretty remarkable number even in its more modest 10-minute original studio version. Betraying the band's early prog fixation, the complex, mostly-instrumental suite owes more to Yes and Zappa and, well, J. S. Bach than the jam bands with whom they're generally associated. The suite segues from an impressive guitar/piano fugue-style interplay to a more straightforward funk groove (shades of the "Theme From Shaft"?) and ultimately into a bit of lyrical silliness as the guys roll out the jam while goofing off with a bare four lyrics (boy, man, god, shit--hey, wasn't that what Trump so successfully was able to remember in his senility test??) and the nonsensical "Wash uffize send me to Firenze" bit.

Yeah, the blend of astounding instrumental acrobatics and lyrical silliness lends itself to an in-joke exclusivity for the band. But the first time I heard it live--at my first Phish show at Shoreline in 1999 (not counting an earlier acoustic gig), joined by Dead bassist Phil Lesh--I immediately climbed on the bus and never got off. Stretched out to 20+ minutes with plenty of room to breathe, and of course Trey and Mike jamming while jumping on trampolines, you're either stunned into submission or shaking your head saying "ok, not for me." And I was all in.

Played live, it typically segues into a lengthy a capella vocal jam which, personally, I could do without--yes, I tend to edit that part out when I'm burning shows to CDR and need to conserve a little space--but, still, even abbreviated the song has been a huge part of my life for the past quarter century (if by virtue of sheer minutes alone).

Live in 2012; the trampolines come out at around 10:30.