Emotional Rescue

Originally Performed ByThe Rolling Stones
Original AlbumEmotional Rescue (1980)
Appears On
Phish Debut1997-11-21
Last Played2019-02-22
Current Gap212
HistorianPhillip Zerbo (pzerbo)
Last Update2013-06-20


At the time of its release, the 1980 album Emotional Rescue represented to many critics either a turning point, or an identity crisis for The Rolling Stones. Mixing their more traditional rock and blues styles with more up-tempo dance numbers bordering on a disco sound, many hard core Stones fans were left shaking their heads, as it represented such a significant departure from their modus operandi. Ironic, given that two decades later this album is viewed by many as a Stones “classic.” Shortly after the release of the album, regarding the title track Mick Jagger noted: “It was ad-libbed. You would never really write a song like that in real life.”

Phish debuted “Emotional Rescue” to open the legendary Hampton run on 11/21/97, immortalized in 2011 on the Hampton/Winston-Salem ‘97 7-disc box set. This tune provided “Mike Jagger” the opportunity to display a wide range of his vocal skills, alternating between extremes with some lines delivered in a deep, soulful voice (“I will be your knight in shining armor; Riding across the desert on a fine Arab charger”) and other lines falsetto (“I'll be your savior, steadfast and true; I'll come to your emotional rescue”); the latter had Trey visibly cracking up during the debut. “Emotional Rescue” opened shows on 12/31/97 (a 17+ minute funk-a-thon) and 7/28/98, then disappeared until the infamous 9/30/00 encore version. 

Phish, “Emotional Rescue” – 11/21/97, Hampton, VA

The 9/30/00 Vegas rendition may confuse fans that only hear the audio recordings, as it features a drawn-out noisy tail end that offers no intuitive answers. Thankfully this gig is immortalized on the Live in Vegas DVD, an offering worth picking up if only to see the encore. Tacked on to the end of this “Emotional Rescue” is a bizarre, choreographed interpretive dance performed by Trey and Mike, who pirouetted about the stage, placed strange hats on their band mates with their guitars, and engaged in an indescribable duel of expressionist... “something.” Words hardly do justice to the moment, check it out for yourself.

Fast-forward a dozen years and 236 shows that spanned the “hiatus” and “break-up,” it would require odd and extraordinary circumstances for “Emotional Rescue” to return to the Phish stage: they needed a song that began with the letter “E,” in order to complete the “F.U.C.K. Y.O.U.R. F.A.C.E.” gig on 8/31/12 at Dick’s. For a band with such an expansive repertoire, this was a more difficult task than you might think. For songs previously played or recorded by Phish, you had only three originals (“Eliza,” “End of Session” and “Esther”), and from the cover department they had “Earache My Eye” – reportedly a strong contender for the slot... no, not really), “Eclipse,” “El Paso,” “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey,” “Everyday I Have the Blues,” “Eyes of the World”... and “Emotional Rescue.” “Emotional Rescue” received the nod, completing the brilliantly constructed and thrillingly executed theme show that easily stands as the best Phish show to date since the 2009 reunion, without a close second.

Phish, “Emotional Rescue” – 8/31/12, Commerce City, CO

Oddly, The Rolling Stones had never performed “Emotional Rescue” live until their own debut of the song on 5/3/13 at the Staples Center in L.A. Perhaps, as was the case with Ween and “Roses Are Free,” The Stones were simply trying to reclaim the song from Phish. :-)

The Rolling Stones, “Emotional Rescue” – 5/5/13, Oakland, CA

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