Gaul Swerves and the Rest is Everything Else

Originally Performed ByPhish
Also Known AsFishman's Gull Poem, Sleepwalk
Lyrics ByFishman
Phish Debut1989-10-26
Last Played1989-10-26
Current Gap1818
HistorianMartin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty), Ellis Godard


Late in the second set of one of the more notable fall 1989 shows (10/26/89 Wetlands) and following close upon the heels of “In a Hole,” Fish takes center stage, to recite a "serious poem"... "About my lifetime, my history, my homeland." He calls it "Gaul Swerves and the Rest is Everything Else" but it was later published in an issue of the Döniac Schvice with the title "Sleepwalk."

Gazing deeply into the psychedelic imagery contained within this epic poem, we have the opportunity to explore both Fishman’s psyche at the lifetime in which it was conceived, the dream-scape of Gaul, and ostensibly the Celtic denizens of this ancient homeland between the Firth of Forth and Firth of Flensburg. The Firth of Flensburg, one of the few Firths that is not located in Scotland, lies along the northeastern border of the Saxony region of Germany with Denmark. The Fishman surname reportedly originated in Saxony, first making its way to the new world in the 1700s.

The Ogham, or “crane knowledge” is the Druidic tree alphabet. In this alphabet, the beech tree, known as Phagos, represented by the letters PH, is the tree of old learning, of ancient ideas. For the ancient Celts, the ancestral knowledge was, of course, the Ogham and so the animal counterpart of Phagos is the crane. The crane makes Ogham symbols with its long, dangling legs as it flies. It also ritually dances a circle dance with its mate. Like the bee, which dances a circle dance to communicate, this is seen as giving it access to the Spirit World. When the crane appears we have something to discover, learn, or understand for our personal growth. The romper that the Crane wears in the dream was most assuredly blue and sleeveless, and emblazoned with red donuts. We all know what Fishman did with the PH.

Baco is a Celtic god, invoked by Gauls on inscriptions found in the areas of modern-day France known as Chalon-sur-Saône and Eauze. His name indicates that he was probably a boar-god, of whom many are recorded in the Celtic world. Baco is clearly the name sake of Bacon, king of the meats. We can only hope the Bacos used as bait in the poem were home-fried nuggets of Lord Baco prepared by the masterful chef rather than the entirely meat-free variety dispensed by Betty Crocker.

Considering the “walk on down the hall” reference to the 3/1/97Weekapaug Groove” and the evocation of the floating eye candy known as the Borealis that appeared at Festival 8, the verses suggest the poem originated from a lucid dream in which Fish took a sleepwalk through his own past, present, and future. Such a case of astral projection is not hard to accept when considering the high likelihood that this dream may have occurred during the days when Fish was setting an alarm for 5:00 AM each morning so he could ingest LSD, go back to sleep, and wait for the acid to awaken him so he could go to school.

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