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Kill Devil Falls

Kill Devil Falls has not been seen in 9 Phish shows.
It was last played: 2024-02-23.
It was played at 5.38% of live shows.
It has been performed live 108 time(s).

Music/Lyrics: Anastasio/Marshall

Vocals: Trey

Debut: 2009-06-02

Historian: Chris Bertolet (bertoletdown)

Trey Anastasio and Tom Marshall succeed as songwriters for many reasons, but one of the main reasons is that their songs leave plenty of room for interpretation. That said, a few of their tunes are not so playfully ambiguous, and most observers seem to agree that "Kill Devil Falls" is not a secluded cascade of Jamaican Rum, a town on a map, or a stop on a pub crawl, but a pointed metaphor for the seductive oblivion of addiction that Trey came to know in recent years.

Like most Anastasio/Marshall compositions, "Kill Devil Falls" is a truly collaborative work both musically and lyrically, and Trey contributed much of the self-referential verbiage here. As the song begins, our narrator returns home from a long bender in Kill Devil Falls and is obtusely stunned to find that his love has up and left. He promises her that he'll mend his ways ("this time will be different") but holds out the possibility that he might break that promise ("until I do it again"). While this turn of phrase left some fans scratching their heads about Trey's commitment to sobriety, such is the recovering addict's dilemma: he must acknowledge his own weakness before finding the strength to overcome it.

Watch Kill Devil Falls on YouTube "Kill Devil Falls" 10/30/10, Atlantic City, NJ

Musically, "Kill Devil Falls" is "Chalk Dust Torture" all grown up, a full throttle blues-boogie blast that spills into what is typically a guitar-driven jam section. It saw its debut in Jones Beach on 6/2/09, and was the first of numerous songs on the Summer 2009 to be played by request. Quite possibly, the fan who made the request was among several who had heard the tune sound-checked just days earlier through the bullpen fence before the tour opener at the venerated Fenway Park in Boston.

Thus far, the distinction of the most adventurous and intoxicating "Kill Devil Falls" to date belongs to the version from Bonnaroo on 6/12/09, which clocked in at over 15 minutes and explored shadowy, introspective terrain. While most versions cover similar territory, a few that have pushed boundaries include 6/22/10 Great Woods, 5/27/11 Bethel Woods, 6/22/12 Cincy, 10/28/14 BGCA,  12/31/15 MSG, and 7/28/18 Forum. The undisputed monster “KDF” to date took place on 7/31/15 in Atlanta; kicking off the second set and extending for 22+ minutes, this should be your first pick for the “KDF” desert island list. For a compact but fun take, check out the appearance from 5/13/10 (broadcast 6/9/10) on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Watch Kill Devil Falls on YouTube "Kill Devil Falls" 7/31/15, Atlanta, GA

Recommended Versions: 2009-06-02, 2009-06-12, 2009-08-02, 2010-06-22, 2011-05-27, 2012-08-15

Albums: Joy


© Who Is She? Music, Inc. (BMI)

Just got back from Kill Devil Falls
Draped my water-logged clothes in the hall
Reach for a beer, glad that I'm here
When I realize that you're not around

Turned on some music and then the tv
Go through the pile of mail waiting for me
Something I spied makes me pull it aside
A letter from your hometown

How could you leave me?
You heard what I said
I'd be at the waterfall clearing my head
Soaking up nature and thinking of you
And leaving's the last thing I thought you would do
I didn't plan to stop at the bar
But Kill Devil Falls is really so far
Who knew a day would turn into a week
But I learned my lesson
And I can still remember the last one
But this time will be different
Until I do it again

Stared at the ceiling for over a day
But none of my questions are answered this way
Won't make any calls
I'll just bounce off the walls
'Til I go back to Kill Devil Falls

I stand at the base of the mountain
Don't follow me
And I step right up to the cliff side
Better learn how to leap
And I stare straight into the future
Tell me what do you see
That this time's gonna be different

Don't go back to Kill Devil Falls

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