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Time Turns Elastic

Also Known As: TTE

Time Turns Elastic has not been seen in 270 Phish shows.
It was last played: 2010-10-24.
It was played at 0.96% of live shows.
It has been performed live 17 time(s).

Music/Lyrics: Anastasio, Hart

Original Artist: Trey Anastasio & Don Hart

Original Album: Time Turns Elastic (2009)

Vocals: Trey

Debut: 2009-05-31

Historian: Phillip Zerbo (pzerbo), Martin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty)

To many physicists and philosophers, the passage of time is an illusion. The past, present, and future cannot be differentiated through reason or formula. For a geologist or naturalist, however, the concept of time is something that can be experienced objectively through simple observation. We can see the seasons change. We watch as mountains are formed, weather, erode, and disappear. Geologic change can be sudden and catastrophic or inexorably slow. But the change does happen. Succession of change is the measure of time as it passes. Despite this knowledge, the sheer beauty of a moment can occasionally cause time to be lost from our perception. These are the moments when time dilation occurs. To quote Henry David Thoreau upon his reaching the top of Mount Wachusett in 1842, "We have only to stand on the summit of our hour to command an uninterrupted horizon."

As originally conceived "Time Turns Elastic" was an orchestral piece for vocals, electric guitar and orchestra, with music and lyrics by Trey, co-arranged by Trey and Don Hart. The promotional materials for the album presented the work as the "centerpiece of Trey's writing during his time off from the road," (a charitable summary of his time engaged in drug court in upstate New York) and "written in the same vein as 'Divided Sky', 'Guyute' and 'You Enjoy Myself'." The full orchestral Time Turns Elastic album version features Trey and Northwest Sinfonia, runs a little over 29 minutes, and contains three movements in nine parts: 

Movement 1: "Song at Dawn" and "Ruby Shaded Sea"

Movement 2: "Submarine," "Landslide" and "Rays of Blue Light"

Movement 3: "Silver Sound Shower," "Hailstorm," "Funnels" and "Carousel"

While there is a clear thematic whole to the suite, each part makes its own distinctive mark. In an interview Don Hart compared "TTE" as "sort of being a Disney ride. From a compositional standpoint it will be a lot of different things. The analogy being a Disney ride where you don’t know what’s going to come around the corner next, it just takes you through all these unexpected places." The orchestral version has been performed live three times to date: the world premiere with Orchestra Nashville at Ryman Auditorium on 9/27/08 (Paul Gambill, conducting); with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall on 5/21/09 (Marin Alsop, conducting); and with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall on 9/12/09 (Asher Fisch, conducting). 

The Phish studio version – which runs "only" 13:29 – omits the entire first movement as well as the intro to "Submarine" but contains most of all the other original sections. The timings are as follows, with sections also noted in the lyrics below:

"Submarine" – 00:00 - 02:05

"Landslide" – 02:06 - 05:40

"Rays of Blue Light" – 05:41 - 08:06

"Silver Sound Shower" – 08:07 - 09:06

"Hailstorm" – 09:07 - 10:17

"Funnels" – 10:18 - 11:15

"Carousel" – 11:16 - 13:29

"Time Turns Elastic" was released as a single on iTunes on 5/26/09, a few weeks in advance of the official release of Joy, along with a promotional video featuring Phish and another video of Trey performing the song's demo solo on acoustic guitar.

Watch Time Turns Elastic on Vimeo ”Time Turns Elastic" official promotional video

After its first two orchestral performances in pristine musical settings, "Time Turns Elastic" made its Phish debut in the rather dubious acoustic confines of Boston's Fenway Park on 5/31/09. After the 17+ minute debut Trey jokingly offered: "that's our single." "TTE" immediately became a Phish staple, making a full dozen appearances in 2009 including at high-profile gigs such as 7/31/09 Red Rocks, 10/30/09 Festival 8, and 12/3/09 MSG

Watch Time Turns Elastic on YouTube ”Time Turns Elastic” – 7/31/09, Morrison, CO, Part 1

Watch Time Turns Elastic on YouTube ”Time Turns Elastic” – 7/31/09, Morrison, CO, Part 2

Fan reaction to the tune has been decidedly mixed. Many fans enthusiastically embraced the return to a focus on complex multi-part instrumentals, something that was one of the hallmarks of early Phish but that had been de-emphasized in recent years. Yet other fans – seemingly never satisfied – took a less kind view that generally bemoaned the extensive lyrics and lack of improvisational elasticity, so to speak; their less-than-endearing characterization was that a set including the song was "TTE'd." Whether based on the mixed fan reaction or some other reason, after a mid-set performance emerging out of “Fee” on 10/24/10 in Amherst, MA, “TTE” was mothballed and did not make a single appearance in 2011.

The value of being "TTE'd" ultimately depends on the observer. Whether we are avidly riding the rail in prog-rock ecstasy or taking advantage of the elasticity of time and recycling and restocking fluids at the beer stand, we are wise to heed the words of Thoreau who concluded in the final chapter of Walden: "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." For better or for worse, "Time Turns Elastic" is Trey's Walden.

Albums: Joy, Lullaby Versions of Phish V2


© Who Is She? Music, BMI


In and out of focus
Time turns elastic
In and out of focus
In and out of focus
Time turns elastic
In and out of focus
In and out of focus
Time turns...

And when I'd stayed too long
I went outside and stared
Arms outstretched and long
Moved straight across the sky
(In and out of focus)
(In and out of focus)

If I could wrap my arms around this globe
Hands, touch the green and brown
I'd sink into the cool, cool ground
(In and out of focus)
(In and out of focus)

Seen all, seen all, seen all summer
Seen all, seen all, seen all spring

But I'm a submarine
submarine sinks below
The ground
a submarine

I'm a submarine
submarine sinks below
The ground


Now that the leaves have turned to gold
The moments all glow
Frozen and free from time

And out here on my own
I watch it ebb and flow

Here, with the fire burning low
In the honey mist that breathes
Crooked maple fingers trembling all around
I feel the winds that blow

Out here between the dark and light
The summer's gone, and the reeds bow down
As the colors change
All along the water line


And when it's time the landslide will free what froze inside
While all around the rocks collide
You finally see the lines
That point toward the light that never dies

Melody, shelter in the darkness
Take hold of me now
Memory, trapped in a corner
Dark fingers are long

But all around streaming down
Rays of blue light, calling out

["Silver Sound Shower"]

These silver sounds are raining down on me
Here on the wheel, the rhythm’s turning all around
Up above the darkened sky is bleeding
I feel the world turning upside down


These are the reasons that we lay down on the ground
Drawn through a funnel, all the colors run together
Turning brown

Wait for the waves to come and carry me away
Down on the ground the sounds of voices in the echoes seem to say


And as the carousel circles unceasingly
Watch while the ripples decay in this rolling time
And cascading, the winds set the wheels in motion
And it’s turning in the mist around me
Rolling and turning into the mist around me

Kissed by the water and held in your mother’s arms
Green where you tumble and roll in these fields
The shapes of the bodies that shift in the sun
While the blossoms all scream and it sleeps around me
The earth in these memories heals around me

In and out of focus, time turns elastic
time turns
In and out of focus, time turns elastic
time turns

Touches these woods and these waters all paved with gold
Gleaming in daylight the voices ring on
They pull while the pointing lay down in the storm
And this life is bending and swelling around me

Rolling and turning into the mist around me
The winds all rising in the west around me
And the carousel turns into breath around me

In and out of focus, time turns elastic
time turns
In and out of focus, time turns elastic
time turns
In and out of focus, time turns elastic
time turns
In and out of focus, time turns elastic
time turns

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