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Destiny Unbound

Destiny Unbound has not been seen in 27 Phish shows.
It was last played: 2021-10-17.
It was played at 2.66% of live shows.
It has been performed live 51 time(s).

Music/Lyrics: Gordon

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

Debut: 1990-09-14

Historian: Ellis Godard

"Destiny Unbound" is about a road-tripping duo, Bill and Jill, who find that the road isn't paved. But the certainty and promise of the title belies the song’s wavering history, disappearance, and uncertain returns.



The song first surfaced in several “out there” shows, such as 2/7/91 (also including the debut of “Tweezer Reprise” and yet another “Lizards” lyrics flub by Trey) and 4/11/91 (known mostly for the “Prison Joke” in the encore, but laudable throughout for song selection and conviction). It was reworked several times (compare 9/14/90, 2/14/91, and 4/19/91) and finally found a home in the solid grooves of the fall tour of 1991, following “Landlady” for all nine appearances (and subsequently disappeared for nearly ten years). Although the song itself is bouncy but heavily scripted, it often served as a launching pad for improvisation, followed by tunes such as “Harry Hood,” “You Enjoy Myself,” and “Mike’s Song”.



Watch Destiny Unbound on YouTube "Destiny Unbound" – 2/14/91, Ithaca, NY



While the connection (musically, rhythmically, lyrically, or otherwise) is unclear, one of the members of Phish apparently thinks “Destiny Unbound” sounds too much like a Grateful Dead tune. As such, it had become the ultimate rarity, not played for 796 shows and by far the most talked about “bring it back!” tune among fans for more than a decade. Trey joked that Phish would perform the tune when, upon the band coming to stage, the entire audience sang the first verse in unison. Though the band did acknowledge an attempt 11/22/97 – Trey said it resembled a "cannibalistic death chant" – several valiant efforts by front rows were to no avail and it became somewhat accepted that the song’s destiny was to remain in our memories and recordings.



The first hint in almost a decade that “Destiny” was still in the realm of the possible was on 4/11/01: During a performance by Col. Bruce Hampton and the Codetalkers with Mike sitting in, “Destiny Unbound” made its first public appearance of any sort in the ten years since 11/15/91. But it would be two more years until Phish played it in full again, as the second tune of 2/28/03  – only one component of what many fans consider the best show of that year – perhaps to exhibit their unpredictability, or perhaps simply to put the popular demand to rest. It has been played several times since, all following the breakup and each time notable mainly because it was played; the destiny may remain unbounded, but the travelers are weary.



Mike added "Destiny" to his own band's repertoire on 01/13/18 at the Sunshine Music Festival in St. Petersburg, Florida. Prior to their 2018 Winter tour, Mike shared a "fly on the wall" video of the rehearsals of his band practicing "Destiny". Mike often teases Wings' "Live and Let Die" at the end of the song with both his own band and Phish.



Watch Destiny Unbound on YouTube "Destiny Unbound" – 5/31/09, Boston, MA


Lyrics:

(Gordon)
© Who Is She? Music, Inc, (BMI)

Highway Bill's on the rotary still
And he can't even feel the pain
Of a sun dried shoulder and a scar from a boulder
That cut him right across his vein
Now he's suckin' cigar and he's shovelin' tar
In the crater of a turnpike terrain
He's got only one hope, and he wants to elope
Cause Highway Jill is driving him insane

We gotta get on the road
Destiny unbound
She's the one for me
We gotta get outta town
We gotta get on the road
Destiny unbound
She's the one for me
We gotta get outta town

Highway Jill was a daffodil with a cactus sense of pride
At the wheel of a tractor, she was quite an impactor
When the road rocks started to slide
She saw Bill drop his shovel on a pile of gravel
As he climbed up out of his ditch
She was wonderstruck when he climbed in her truck
He said "I've been havin' this everlasting itch

At first she was cold, she was ready to scold
This guy from the pit with a thing in his head
But then she thought twice when he melted her ice
With his passionate eyes she was energized
She started the ignition and without permission
The two of 'em flew down the dusty road
But the road wasn't finished and the pavement diminished
They soared off the edge and they plunged in the sludge

She said "There isn't even any road, our Destiny was bound
We were the ones for us but now we're in the ground"
(Repeat x 4)

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