Can't Always Listen

Originally Performed ByPhish
VocalsTrey (lead), Mike, Page (backing)
Phish Debut2015-12-30
Last Played2019-08-30
Current Gap191
HistorianDan Mielcarz (ColForbin)
Last Update2023-11-27


“Can’t Always Listen” (co-written by Trey and The Dude of Life) is perhaps Phish’s most straightforward blues song. The lyrics are a simple ode to doing things your own way and not getting hung up on material possessions: “Can’t always listen to what people say / If you wish to wind up where you hope to be someday; The stars are sitting pretty and the world is spinning fine / Forget about what’s yours and don’t worry about what’s mine.” The music, while pleasant, is nothing fancy: a standard blues chord progression, a “Sugar Magnolia”-esque riff from Trey, a piano solo, and a guitar solo.

While probably destined to be a first set rocker, the debut of the tune was more interesting: sandwiched in the middle of a second set “Ghost” on 12/30/15. This placement caught everyone off guard, sending the more curious to their phones in search of the title. There were some grumbles – when are there not? – about “Ghost” being disrupted, but the re-entry into “Ghost” was a lot of fun, and worth a spin. After a 142 show gap, “Can’t Always Listen” returned to the stage to open the first night of the annual Labor Day weekend run at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on 8/30/19.

Phish ”Ghost” > “Can’t Always Listen” (@ 5:45) – 12/30/15, New York, NY. Video by notmkdevo

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