Blue and Shiny

Originally Performed ByTrey Anastasio
Music/LyricsAnastasio, Marshall
VocalsTom (Lead); Trey (Backing)
HistorianTim Wade (TheEmu)
Last Update2015-05-22


1997 was a prolific year of songwriting for Trey and Tom Marshall. Over four long weekends, the duo retreated to Vermont farmhouses, cut themselves off from the outside world, and produced a trove of material. The recordings from these sessions, released in 2000 as Trampled By Lambs and Pecked By the Dove, capture the nascent versions of “Ghost,” “Piper,” “Twist,” “Limb By Limb,” and many more tunes that would enrich both Phish and TAB setlists for years to come. One of the sessions, at the Kaplan house near Stowe, produced three familiar songs, “Farmhouse,” “Bug,” and “Sleep,” as well as one lesser-known number, “Blue and Shiny.” Of the 25 tracks on Trampled By Lambs, 18 would end up being performed by Phish, but not “Blue and Shiny.” “Oh, yeah, to me that was just a me and Trey song,” Tom said in a 2007 interview with Randy Ray of “It’s a totally special song for him and me, the writing of it and the Beach Boys thing at the end.”

The lyrics revolve around the idea of being alone together. It could be one person singing to another (“Just together we two”) or maybe a person serenading his mind as if it were someone else (“I’m alone when you’re here). After all, our true selves can seem so enigmatic that it’s like trying to understand a separate entity. But these thoughts are fleeting, and whether the other is without or within, the bottom line is the same: “I’m just hoping that you can see that you’re together with me.”

If you are able to listen to “Blue and Shiny” without grinning, please seek immediate medical confirmation that you’re not a cyborg. The tune is virulently silly, with a touch of Syd Barrett, and might be the most blatant musical evidence of Trey and Tom’s friendship outside of “Backwards Down the Number Line.” The only two live versions to date, on 5/11 and 5/13/99, feature both Trey and Tom, who laugh, whistle the bridge from the original version, and harmonize like Dean and Sammy. The only known “Christmas song” that Trey and Tom have ever written, “Blue and Shiny” is like a gift that those friends gave each other. Here’s to hoping they continue to share those gifts with us for many years to come!

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