Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Wading in the Velvet Sea: Past, Present, Future

During the Hampton webcast on Friday night, I had the pleasure of watching the band play "Wading in the Velvet Sea" with my wife (while our 5 week old slept nearby) in the 2nd set. This was the 3rd time my wife and I have "seen" this song together, the other two being at crucial points in my life—and in the evolution of the band. The 3rd time may prove to be just as crucial.

The first time my wife and I saw "Wading" was in Coventry, in August of 2004. We were dating, but things were not good for us. I was living in Florida and working on a campaign, she was still in DC. We were broken up, but in the way that we were still interested in spending a weekend together (with lots of other friends) at the "last Phish shows."

We weren't in a good place, and neither was Phish. Page cried just trying to sing the first lines to "Wading." So did we. The emotional intensity of that weekend for us (and so many others) wasn't so much because Phish was over—it's how it ended that really hurt.

Nobody felt good walking out of Coventry. We were saying goodbye to an era we loved, but we also all knew that we were leaving things in a disastrous state. We knew Mike disagreed with the breakup. We knew that their last show was a disaster, we knew that Trey was not well—exemplified by the fact that he told the same story 3 times (not in typical ironic Phish fashion), among other things.

The song's lyrics are about missed opportunities and moving on. They sing "time leaks out my life leaks in." They're telling us not to count on things being the same, and that time always marches on. Move forward. Progress. But where does it take us?

Fast-forward almost 6 years from Coventry, to June 18, 2010. We were seeing Phish at the Comcast Theater in Hartford. This wasn't the first 3.0 show we saw (we had been eating up 3.0 Phish since Hampton '09). In the 2nd set, they started up "Wading." My wife and I—now happily married after our 2004 breakup, having moved around the country and now living an amazing life together—went down into the aisles in the pavilion and danced together to the song.

But this time it was different. The band was back, happy and healthy—and so were we. This was a cathartic experience, because it felt like we were all back together again, how we were supposed to be. Our relationships were repaired, as were the band's. And the band's relationship with us, the fans, was repaired as well. We were all in a better place.

This past Friday night was the 3rd time. Our baby slept soundly as we danced together, again, to "Wading." And it's even better now than it was 3 years ago. I feel that the same goes for the band. They're happier and playing more cohesively and inventively than they have since the late 1990s. It's a new era—for the band, for the fans, and for the broader Phish community. There's still so much potential.


  1. This is the truth. As I read this post Wading came on the Lullaby Versions of Phish album as my wife and I sit here with our 2 week old. As I read this she started to cry, I started to cry. This song really pulls at the heart strings. Special times.

    1. Same thing just happened to me. Reading this while lullaby wading in the velvet sea plays in the background. ������

  2. Beautifully said. This song has always had a lot of meaning for me, and been there during pivotal times of change and melancholy. It's funny how these things come around to remind you of where you have been, and how much there is to look forward to.

    I took a moment from my day, and wrapped it up in things you say.
    And mailed it off to you.