3 Songs You Didn’t Know Trey Anastasio Wrote Solo for Phish

The 59-year-old Fort Worth, Texas-born songwriter and musician Trey Anastasio is renowned for his electric guitar playing ability. The heir apparent to the jam band throne after Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, Anastasio and his group Phish have been touring the world and playing their brand of improvisational, psychedelic music for decades, beginning with their 1989 album, Junta.

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But while the songs they write and release are often collaborative efforts, Anastasio had written some of the tunes for the band all on his own. To wit, these three songs here below. Let’s explore!

[RELATED: 4 Songs You Didn’t Know Dave Matthews Wrote Solo for Dave Matthews Band]

1. “You Enjoy Myself”

Written by Trey Anastasio

First played live in 1986, “You Enjoy Myself” is known as one of the band’s most frequently performed songs, showing up at around 600 of the band’s nearly 2,000 live shows. Written by Anastasio in Florence, Italy, the nearly 10-minute track was released on the band’s debut album, Junta, in 1989. It’s also been rumored to be a reference to masturbation, given the title and the several giant sonic crescendos. It was said to have been originally inspired by a man who hugged Anastasio and his friend in Italy, exclaiming, “You know, when I am with you, you enjoy myself!” On it, Anastasio sings minimally,

Boy
Man
God
Shit
Boy man
Boy man
Wash uffitze drive me to firenze

2. “Billy Breathes”

Written by Trey Anastasio

The title song to Phish’s 1996 album of the same name, this mellow tune, featuring acoustic guitars, piano and banjos, was written by Anastasio. The name and album title come from Anastasio’s daughter Eliza, who had the nickname “Billy” as a baby. On the cerebral offering, which includes divine guitar leads and bolstering piano licks, Anastasio sings,

Tumbling greens, a pick-up screams alone above the square
Whoa, sing softly
Above the trees where Billy breathes we float upon the air
Whoa, oh

Softly sing sweet songs
Softly sing sweet songs
Softly sing sweet songs
Ooooh ooooh

3. “If I Could”

Written by Trey Anastasio

Released on the 1994 Phish album, Hoist, this emotive song includes vocals from iconic country singer Alison Krauss, who herself has gained renown more recently as part of her award-winning duo with Robert Plant. Together Anastasio and Krauss sing sweetly,

“Take me to another place”, she said
“Take me to another time
Run with me across the oceans
Float me on a silver cloud”

If I could I would, but I don’t know how
If I could I would, but I don’t know how
If I could I would and I’d take you now

“Stay with me till time turns over
I want to feel my feet leave the ground
Take me where the whispering breezes
Can lift me up and spin me around”

Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images

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