Home

Phish.net Mobile Phish.net

Login

NICU

Also Known As: In an Intensive Care Unit

NICU has not been seen in 1 Phish shows.
It was last played: 2019-08-31.
It was played at 7.94% of live shows.
It has been performed live 141 time(s).

Music/Lyrics: Anastasio/Marshall

Vocals: Trey (lead), Mike, Page (backing)

Debut: 1992-03-06

Historian: Craig DeLucia, Phillip Zerbo

Has any Phish song had as many names with as many explanations as “NICU”? At its debut in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Trey introduced the song as “In an Intensive Care Unit.” Shortly thereafter, the name was changed to “NICU,” which some considered a play on a line from the backing vocals in the chorus (“and I see you”) and others noted was the abbreviation for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.



Shortly thereafter, the “controversy” began, as controversy can only begin among rabid Phish fans. Some called the song “And I See You.” Some stuck with the original “In an Intensive Care Unit.” Other interesting theories developed, including one from the Internet where a fan noted that the elements Nickel (NI) and Copper (Cu) are side-by-side on the Periodic Table and that the title “NICU” may thus be a reference to nickels and pennies or, more likely, small change.



Watch NICU on YouTube ”NICU” – 2/18/97, Bataclan, Paris, France



Whatever the explanation, fans quickly took to the song. The signature guitar licks managed to combine a reggae beat with rock-and-roll spirit, and the swirling organ touches from Page only serve to complement the instrumentation. Combined with the sing-along chorus (quite rare for a Phish song) and fun falsetto-led bridge, “NICU” was one of the more popular debuts on the spring 1992 tour and was one of the most frequently played tunes from its debut through the notoriously excellent month of April 1992.



And then, seemingly as quickly as it arrived, “NICU” disappeared for 249 shows until 6/23/94 in Pontiac, MI. The reggae stylings morphed into a sped-up calypso beat and the falsetto bridge was gone, replaced by a solo segment that, as time progressed, allowed Page to show off his chops. 



It was at the famous 12/14/95 Binghamton show (LivePhish 01) that “NICU” finally seemed to find its comfort space in Phish’s repertoire. From this night on, the song appeared at more regular intervals, placating those fans who crave to hear Page wail on the organ. In 1997 and 1998, the song followed a path of evolution that saw it used as either a springboard or capstone for other songs, an evolution that continues to this day.



Watch NICU on YouTube ”NICU” – 7/19/03, East Troy, WI



While most versions of “NICU” are quite similar, “NICU” is far from a first set wonder. Check out 7/13/94 Big Birch with a slick segue to “Tweezer,” while 10/30/98 returned the favor with a nice segue from “Tweezer” into “NICU.” 12/1/94 Salem OR (a LivePhish archival release) featured “NICU” sandwiched in a classic sequence between “Makisupa” and “Tweezer.” The segue from “Buffalo Bill” -> “NICU” combo from The Great Went 8/17/97 is actually a highlight of an otherwise (if understandable) letdown from the majesty of the preceding second set. From the 2.0 era, don’t miss 7/19/03 Alpine Valley, where “NICU” was immortalized as part of the “Leo Trio.” 



“NICU” remains a fixture in Phish 3.0, not having seen a notable gap from the repertoire in over twenty years. From their return year, the 6/20/09 version that slickly segues out of an abbreviated “YEM” is worth a visit. If you are twisted enough to have ever considered what you’d take as your Desert Island 3.0 “NICU,” look no further than 7/27/14 Merriweather, where it served a starring role in one of the best sets of the era, with a sick segue from “Disease” and another into the “HYHU” that would result in “Jennifer Dances.”



Watch NICU on YouTube ”NICU” – 12/31/10, New York, NY


Albums: Hampton Comes Alive, Live Phish 01, Live Phish 05, Live Phish 16, IT, Hampton/Winston-Salem '97, Ventura, The Clifford Ball

Lyrics:

(Anastasio/Marshall)
© by Who Is She? Music, Inc (BMI)

Appendages flailing, you're running at me
Ferocious tenaciously, clawing at me
The devious gelatin holding me fast
Miraculous now, you let me ooze past

Over the wall, rushing rivers of sleaze
The tip of stalactites incising my knees
A slipper, a sand dollar, day at the shore
Nice evening at home that I dread even more

Would you please make clear to me
I'm peering out through your opacity
Though you rehearse tomorrow's verse
Forgive me if I don't sing in your key

Back on those days when my life was a haze
The gelatin lay on a truncated sleigh
Copernicus drank from a vessel that stank
From the free mason's crank to the overflow tank

Bane of the weasel for biting/biding is fun
Jump on the turnstile and watch me go round
Swim with the cactus (ssssssss) and float with the stone
I try to convey what you strive to condone

Would you please make clear to me
I'm peering out through your opacity
Though you rehearse tomorrow's verse
Forgive me if I don't sing in your key

...Play it Leo!!

Would you please make clear to me
I'm peering out through your opacity
Though you rehearse tomorrow's verse
Forgive me if I don't sing in your key

Would you please (No left turn unstoned) make clear to me (When you see me)
Why nothing is the first thing that I see
And if you do (No left turn unstoned) And I see you (When you see me)
Then you will be the nothing left for me

Would you please (No left turn unstoned) make clear to me (When you see me)
Why nothing is the first thing that I see
And if you do (No left turn unstoned) And I see you (When you see me)
Then you will be the nothing left for me

Stats for "NICU"Back to Songs

© 2019 The Mockingbird Foundation
Powered by Phish.net
Designed by Adam Scheinberg