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Summer of '89

Summer of '89 has not been seen in 361 Phish shows.
It was last played: 2010-10-12.
It was played at 0.21% of live shows.
It has been performed live 4 time(s).

Music/Lyrics: Trey Anastasio, Amanda Green

Vocals: Trey (lead), Page (backing)

Debut: 2010-06-18

Historian: David Steinberg (zzyzx)

There's something about the summers in years ending in nine that inspires people to write reflective songs. Maybe it's the additional rhymes compared to seven or the end of a decade feeling, like the start of a new era. Throw in the freedom of summer, especially from the perspective of an adult looking back on the era, and it's hard not to get a little melancholy. 

When Phish debuted “Summer of ‘89” on 6/18/10 in Hartford, the people following at home had to wade through the confusion. Was it "Summer of '69" by Bryan Adams or "Summer of '89" by the coincidentally named Drowning Fish? Nope, this was a Trey original, co-written with Amanda Green.

Unlike most Anastasio-penned songs that focus on mythical characters or feature surreal lyrics, “Summer of ‘89” appeared to be blatantly autobiographical, in this case a love song written to his wife. For some that can be a little painful, and out of the gates the song touched a divisive chord among some fans; people don’t always want the curtain pulled back to show the man behind the wizard. Others have found it rather touching that Trey is showing such a transparently vulnerable side. While it was fun to come up with theories about how and why Trey wrote this song, most of them were dashed when LivePhish’s liner notes indicated that this song was co-written with Amanda Green. This wasn’t necessarily or exclusively a private moment between Trey and Sue revealed to the world; assume that the lyrics resembled real life events at your own risk.

Watch Summer of '89 on YouTube ”Summer of ‘89” – 6/18/10, Hartford, CT 

Musically, the song is a shuffling ballad as befitting the lyrics. The music seems to be taken from a Trey song performed on his spring 1999 tour named “Andre the Giant,” not to be confused with the different Trey song with that title that was released on Seis De Mayo. Many lines have an extra or missing syllable which adds to the feel – for better and for worse – of this being a personal song being played to the whole world. The song feels like an older man flipping back through old photographs and wishing he could be that person again until the end. Then the perspective flips. 

As, “And we danced all night,” is sung, we’re suddenly in a happier jam. We’re now in the night instead of looking back at it. Trey is a goofy guitarist playing local clubs with his band, working on a song named “Reba.” Hanging with MTV and the H.O.R.D.E. tour, Clifford Ball and Big Cypress – and Coventry for that matter – all of that is just an unknowable future. It’s just Trey and his girlfriend dancing all night. The future can take care of itself.


© Who Is She? Music, Inc. (BMI)

We danced all night
And swam at dawn
In the summer of '89
And lives stretched out
Like a rolling lawn
In the summer of '89

I see you standing there
In that dress you used to wear
You stole my heart
But I didn't mind
In the summer of '89

Brazilian music on the stereo
We hiked the long trail to a spring
I took blades of grass
And I wove you a ring

Our eyes were bright
But our smiles were worn
In the summer of '95
On the road
When our first was born
In the summer of '95

We'd sing to put her down
As the bus rolled out of town
We were driving blind
No clue where we'd arrive
In the summer of '95

Life changes, time presses on
It seems each year goes faster than the last
No, it's not that I don't like the way things are
But lately time just drives me right back to the past

Glad to find any time alone
And it's summer once again
The days are whole
But they're not our own
Remember our life back then.

We shared one small room
And a bed and a chair
I close my eyes
You touch my hand
You smile
And I'm there

You're the same girl I loved back then
For now and all time
You'll be that girl of mine
In the summer of '89

And we danced all night
And we danced all night

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