[Congressional Record Volume 150, Number 93 (Thursday, July 8, 2004)]
[Senate]
[Page S7823]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                            TRIBUTE TO PHISH

  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, on August 15 in Coventry, VT, a beloved 
chapter in American music history will come to a close as the jam band 
Phish holds its final concert for legions of devoted ``phans'' and 
``Phish-heads.'' We in Vermont are well known for our superb maple 
syrup, our wonderful ice cream, our award-winning cheese and our 
beautiful scenery, but after 21 remarkable years, the jam band Phish 
has certainly become one of our most famous exports.
  The four musicians of Phish--Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon, Page 
O'Connell, and Jon Fishman--met and started playing together as 
undergraduates at the University of Vermont in the early 1980s. The 
band quickly moved beyond its humble beginnings in a dormitory basement 
to playing a small nightclub in Burlington called Nectar's. While they 
toured for 5 years before releasing any commercial albums, the buzz 
around the band spread as their striking melodies and lively jam 
sessions endeared them to a growing legion of fans.
  Phish released its first commercial album, Junta, in 1989. Since 
then, the band has put out more than 35 studio and live albums that 
have sold millions of copies. They have more than 200 original songs, 
and many of the songs die-hards love most were never recorded in the 
studio.
  But the magic of Phish is not as much in its studio recordings as it 
is in its live performances. In an era when slick marketing techniques 
often overshadow the musical accomplishments of the artists themselves, 
this talented band from Vermont has provided a refreshing contrast by 
promoting free spiritedness and individuality in their music.
  The band has always been unconcerned about releasing catchy singles 
and making millions of dollars from record sales. Instead they play 
long jams--oftentimes with songs lasting 30 minutes or longer--and tour 
year-round. Bucking a trend in the industry, they even encouraged 
people to tape their shows for free and trade them on the Internet. For 
the members of Phish, it really is all about their music and their 
fans.
  Every night on stage is a new and different showcase for the talents 
of the versatile and endlessly creative band members. Whether they are 
playing electric guitars, keyboards, drums, or vacuum cleaners, Phish's 
improvisational talent has never disappointed. Many fans--often 
referred to as ``Phish-heads''--follow the band from concert to concert 
living off veggie burritos, grilled cheese sandwiches and the charity 
of others.
  Through it all, Phish has always considered Vermont home. In a 
tribute to their Burlington roots, the band's first album produced with 
a major record company was titled A Picture of Nectar. And the band's 
share of proceeds from sales of the popular ``Phish Food'' Ben and 
Jerry's ice cream flavor goes directly toward environmental projects in 
Vermont's Lake Champlain Watershed. Now, as they prepare for their 
final show in Vermont, it is appropriate that they finish where they 
started.
  Though Phish has sold millions of albums and become a huge success, 
in spirit they remain a group that is unpretentious and unfailingly 
loyal to their fans. Their admirable generosity has fostered a sense of 
community among those who follow the group. The band's break-up is a 
source of sadness to all of us who know and love them.
  I congratulate Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon, Jon Fishman and Page 
O'Connell on their remarkable success. I am grateful for all they have 
done for Vermont, for American music, and for their fans. Most 
importantly, we sincerely appreciate their authenticity, their 
enthusiasm and their generosity.
  While no one wants to see Phish stop playing after this summer, we 
can all take some solace that their music will live on, in these words 
from their song, ``Down With Disease.''

     Waiting for the time when I can finally say
     That this has all been wonderful, but now I'm on my way.
     But when I think it's time to leave it all behind,
     I try to find a way, but there's nothing I can say to make it 
           stop.

                          ____________________