Where to begin? How being raised by old school republican parents ran me off from their way of life? The first show I ever saw the boys play and the exact minute to minute play list on that glorious night? Maybe Halloween '96 when I dressed up as a hump-back with a pony keg in my hump and a sign that said, "STDs for Sale-Herpes $5, Syphilis $10, Gonorrhea $15 (yea I know, it seemed funny at the time). How growing up and being looked upon as an "outsider" because I didn't follow the masses by listening to Def-Leppard and Country, while living in the 4th richest per capita city in the country and a suburb of Nashville during the 80s? No, I'm simply going to tell you about how I experienced complete bliss and how I haven't felt it since.
Being from Nashville, it seems to be a pre-requisite to listen to country music. Everyone sported the over-sized belt-buckles, tight jeans and brown work boots. Seventy percent of my peers didn't even live on a farm, own an animal or had to do any hard "manual" labor growing up. Most kids drove European cars to school and had 5 Christmas trees during the holidays. A small group of friends and myself with our long-hair and "Jerry is a Jedi" t-shirts would smoke our grass and talk about how we would get away for the weekend and go see "The Boys" play if they came within 200+ miles of our city. We were never harassed by the rest of our peers, only small chuckles and rolled eyes as we strolled by with our little grins on our faces knowing that thanks to these people we would almost be guaranteed a ticket at no more than ten dollars a pop. We still were athletic, playing on the school football, baseball or wrestling team. I guess because of this, we had a pass from the pseudo-country boys harassment. When we started a school lacrosse team, no-one could understand why we were running around with Bobby Weir cut-off shorts throwing a ball around laughing our heads off. They were dumbfounded as to why we were more interested in catching a buzz and enjoying our competition's company than trying to crack someones head open and causing an uncontrolled bowel movement. My God, these hippies are more concerned about having fun than breaking the competitions face? What's next, a black man elected president?! We would get the school to rent us a van, line up an out-of-state tournament and travel states away to secretly skip the games to see our beloved Phish rock a couple venues. Instead of worrying about making the weekend-long field parties we would concentrate on baking our Phatty Phat Goo-Balls and drawing up our marketing signs (What the PH*%K, It's only a BUCK!).
After graduating high school and traveling the country seeing our boys grow in popularity and refineing their musical adventures (and misadventrures) I had my "experience". It was at a local show where this beutiful experience took place. 1995 was the beginning of a strong musical era for Phish (in my opinion). I had been seeing them regularily since '92 and felt comfortable enough to hold strong debates on why Cactus Jack needed to turn up and exert his dominance on the Bass. The feeling of complete happiness occured in Knoxville, TN 1995 during the second set mid-way thru BBFCM. I remember seeing Trey levitate (yea I know, cheesey, but hey, the Bevis & Butthead LSD I took was taking serious hold on me!). I recall like it was yesterday sitting there in the near front right, thinking to myself: my god, this feeling inside, I'm so happy I don't think I can take it, I think I might burst! All I could do was smile and hold myself tightly and moan with contentment. After the show I told myself that this is what a crackhead must feel like after their hit has worn off; I need another one and nothing will stop me from getting it! Instead of crack, I need another show. I have to get to Nashville for tommorrow night and I will not take no for an answer! Thus began my multi-year "addiction" to Phish. I still went to school and earned two degrees, yet any and every chance I got I hit a show. I would study hard and finish my homework early so that I might skip out early from class to hit different multi-state show runs. I would keep in touch with tour buddies and plan my mis-adventures with them. I've been across the country, out of country, small shows, Millenium beginning shows and everything in between. Years from now, as my daughter and myself get older, I'll be able to relive the many stories (and leave out a couple) I've experienced in the hopes that my daughter will appreciate and understand how they've sculpted my being.
After Coventry (In which I walked right in and right out, no waiting, BOOYAA!), I realized that yes I was sad, but I had experienced years of bliss that none of my country boy school mates would EVER be able to have. I went on with my life, built a solid career and started a family. When it was announced that the boys would be playing the Mother Ship in 2009, I immediately tried to get tickets to no avail. I was saddened but realized that even if I got tickets, I didn't believe that I would get that blissful feeling like I did in '95. I'll let someone younger who hasn't felt it yet get a ticket and hopefully that all encompassing feeling. Then again, maybe I'll cash in a bond or dip into my daughter's college fun and relapse back into my "addiction" of tour life. Ahhhhh, I can feel my hair growing as I type this, and my patch-work overalls calling my name softely from the attic...Bumm Bump, Bumm Bump...BRIIIIANNNN...Bumm Bump, Bumm Bump