Liquid Time

Originally Performed ByTrey Anastasio
Appears On
Phish Debut0000-00-00
Current Gap2062
HistorianMartin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty)
Last Update2021-10-11


In artist Camille Utterback's Liquid Time Series, she explores how the concept of 'point of view' is predicated on embodied existence. To fully grasp the symbolism in the lyrics of the Phish song "Liquid Time," the point of view of a sailor becalmed in the mid-Pacific high is the existence that would have to be embodied. In the doldrums of the horse latitudes in the north Pacific ocean, time dissolves into a pool of liquid mercury. The sky and the ocean become one at a horizon that is simultaneously within grasp and a million miles away. The fiery glow of the rising sun paints the mercuric ocean in a dizzying array of volcanic neon strands of light. This glorious view of infinity passes through the dreams of the rest of the crew sleeping in the cabin below as the weary helmsman paddles in lazy circles with the boat's tiller and longs for wind to fill the vessel's sails. This is the part of the ocean where madness sets in. Lush tropical islands spring from the darkness made less so by the light of myriad stars and sink into the abyssal deep. Voices of the dead seep through the hull. Here there be monsters, sea-bats, fluorescent dolphins, whale songs, and eternity. How did I get here and when can I leave?

"Liquid Time" was recorded in Trey's Rubber Jungle studio in Saratoga Springs, New York in November 2007. Trey was in the midst of his own personal doldrums at the time, stuck in the high pressure environment of the Washington County drug court. This embodied existence may be responsible for the point of view that comes through in the song. Like the sailor he is aware of what brought him to this place where "Time Turns Elastic," perception is wrong, and the night seems to go on incredibly long. Although there are demons to confront, passing through the "Liquid Time" of confinement within the horse latitudes rewards the voyager with a perspective toward life that few others may grasp.

Phish released Trey's sparse acoustic flamenco version of "Liquid Time" on the Party Time bonus disk included in the Joy boxed set. Although they played the song with Trey on electric guitar during their soundchecks at Toyota Park (8/11/09) and Festival 8 (10/29/09), the song has yet to be performed by Phish for a live audience. The debut live performance (2/8/10 Charlottesville, VA) was during Trey's February 2010 tour with TAB, with Trey on electric guitar, and the TAB horns giving the song a much fuller big band sound. "Liquid Time" was in regular rotation throughout the TAB winter tour and was often replete with the song of the whale. 

Like the sailor waiting for the wind, the duration spent waiting for "Liquid Time" to appear in a Phish setlist seems infinite. 

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