Golgi Apparatus

Originally Performed ByPhish
Original AlbumJunta
Appears On
VocalsTrey (lead); All (backing)
Phish Debut1986-10-12
Last Played2023-10-13
Current Gap15
HistorianDan Purcell
Last Update2016-02-27


Some great rock-and-roll songs are written at four in the morning on a battered Fender Stratocaster, the author splayed on a cigarette-singed mattress on the floor of a filthy tenement, having speedily gulped a fifth of Jack Daniel’s to better forget the woman who done him wrong. And some great rock and roll songs are composed on a jewel-encrusted Steinway in a remote antechamber of a seventy-room Hertfordshire mansion while a dissolute multi-millionaire waits for his loyal manservant to bring a flotilla of smoked salmon and a tumbler of the finest single-malt whisky.

But some great rock and roll songs are written by the dorks in your junior high audio/visual club, sitting around bored during fifth-hour biology lab. “Golgi Apparatus,” not surprisingly, falls into this third category. Trey, Tom, Dave Abrahams and Aaron Woolf originally wrote “Golgi” in eighth grade. Given that Trey didn’t even play guitar when the song was originally written, one would guess that he inserted the lyrical middle section, with its graceful, winding guitar line, a few years later.

Strictly speaking, a Golgi apparatus, named after the Italian biologist Camillo Golgi (1843-1926), is a membranous sub-cellular particle that produces secretions within human (and animal) cells. And it’s really pronounced “Gol-jee,” not “Gol-gee,” if anyone cares. But no one really thinks the song is about sub-cellular biology, anyway. To the contrary, the tune’s anthemic chorus, sporting one of Phish’s most satisfying hooks, is a shout-out to the audience. Although the practice has ebbed in this era of sheds and hockey arenas, in the early 90s, the crowd would traditionally respond to Trey’s shouts of “I saw you/With a ticket stub in your hand!” by waving their ticket stubs in the air.

First performed back in the formative stages of Phish’s career, “Golgi” gradually found a niche as a set opener or, more commonly, set closer. Which is unsurprising, given the potent arena-rock drive of its chorus. “Golgi” has only fallen out of heavy rotation for two extended periods: it was played only four times in eighty-some shows between June 1995 and July 1996, and played only four times during 1997. Since then “Golgi” has been on the playlist a little more frequently. As one of the band’s more tightly structured songs, it doesn’t jam, but most fans forgive it anyway. After all, you know, it rocks.

For a unique twist on “Golgi,” check out the version offered by the Stanford Marching Band on Mockingbird’s Sharin’ in the Groove CD.

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