Things People Do

Originally Performed ByPhish
Appears On
VocalsPage (lead), Mike, Trey (backing)
Phish Debut2016-06-28
Last Played2019-07-09
Current Gap196
HistorianElayne Best (jugglerswithfire)
Last Update2019-03-02


If I looked into my crystal ball and examined the data for this song’s place in Phish’s history, I would feel confident in my prediction: “Things People Do” from Phish’s latest album release, Big Boat has a future taking the setlist slot of beloved bluegrass numbers such as “The Old Home Place,” “Nellie Kane,” and “Beauty of My Dreams”.

The version on Big Boat is raw and played at a slower tempo. The live versions, including the 6/28/16 debut, were much faster paced and pure toe-tapping bluegrass fun. Early on, fans were a little confused about who sang the song. This is probably because Mike sings most Phish bluegrass songs, or maybe because it sounds like Mike’s voice on the recordings. But this time, friends, it’s the Chairman of the Boards.

According to an interview with Page and Trey, the album version of "Things People Do" was recorded by Page on his iPhone, which he had set on his electric piano as part of a band exercise to write a folk song. Page recorded it on his iPhone, and brought it into the studio sessions, where the entire band fell in love with it, and figured out a full-band arrangement for the song. After dozens of takes on the song in the studio, with slight tweaks in the arrangement, none of the studio takes ever measured up to the lo-fi version Page brought to the table originally, so the band stuck with it.

”Things People Do” 10/15/16 North Charleston, SC

Like many songs on Big Boat, “Things People Do” seems to deal with some more serious themes. Older Phish tunes were known for nonsensical zany and fun lyrics. Big Boat brings us to a new age; as fans and the band grow older, we begin to have new challenges. While this tune is short and sweet, the lyrics run deep. They could refer to a proverbial wanderer who has made mistakes and keeps bouncing to the next group of friends and town. However, given the disaster that was the 2016 Presidential Election, it’s hard not to see the song in its light. So put on your headphones, shake your head in frustration, and sing loudly, “There’s just no explaining the things people do!”

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