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Lawn Boy

Lawn Boy has not been seen in 38 Phish shows.
It was last played: 2023-07-19.
It was played at 10.92% of live shows.
It has been performed live 219 time(s).

Music/Lyrics: Anastasio, Marshall

Vocals: Page

Debut: 1989-11-30

Historian: Phillip Zerbo (pzerbo); Mockingbird Staff

“Ladies and Gentlemen, The Chairman of the Boards.” As often introduced by Trey either before or following its performance, “Lawn Boy” shines the spotlight on Phish’s Chairman of the Keyboards, Page McConnell. Not content with a stylistic diversity that includes everything from punk to bluegrass, “Lawn Boy” adds lounge crooning to Phish’s repertoire. 

“Lawn Boy” provides the title track for Phish’s second studio album, and in keeping with the Phish tradition of variety – in this case unplanned – there are two different versions of the studio release. The re-mastered version on Elektra is significantly slower than the original version on the Absolute A-Go-Go label. Perhaps they found this version preferable, as the live version performed today is even slower than the (already slowed-down) remastered album cut.

Watch Lawn Boy on YouTube “Lawn Boy” – 7/19/03, East Troy, WI

Introduced at Boston’s Paradise on 11/30/89, “Lawn Boy” has been a standard ever since, remaining in a more or less regular live rotation. Almost all renditions witness Page moving out from the veil of his keyboard setup to assume front-and-center stage in order to serenade the crowd. “Lawn Boy” also provides an opportunity for Mike Gordon to display his more subtle skills, with a laid-back, jazzy solo. 

While live renditions are for the most part similar, a few notable versions can be found on 7/19/91 and 7/21/91 with the Giant Country Horns; 8/21/93 with Béla Fleck and the Flecktones; 8/16/97 with an extended bass solo by Mike, and on 11/21/97, featuring Fishman’s intentionally slow, non-eventful “anti-drum solo.” Standard versions appear in many otherwise notable shows, including 12/31/93; 10/31/98 Live Phish 16, 12/31/99 Big Cypress, 12/31/02 MSG hiatus-buster, 8/2/03 IT; 8/14/09 Hartford throwback; the excellent opening set to Super Ball IX on 7/2/11; 4/26/14 at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival; and 10/31/14 Las Vegas with a Fish drum solo. A truly unique a cappella offering concluded the third set on 12/31/12 at MSG, one of the finishing touches on the lawn-themed set and overall NYE gag theme.

Watch Lawn Boy on YouTube “Lawn Boy” – 12/31/12, New York, NY

Of course, the first 205 offerings of “Lawn Boy” were but a prelude for the 7/25/17 “Jam-Filled” version, a/k/a the “Lawn Man.” In the summer of 2017 Phish played a 13-show run at Madison Square Garden dubbed the “Baker’s Dozen.” Prior to each show, a donut flavor was announced, which influenced that night’s setlist.  Shortly after the third “Red Velvet” night, Phish changed the rules and immediately announced that for the next show the donut would be “Jam-Filled.” Fans immediately understood the significance. Plans should be altered, flights changed. This was not a show to be missed, if at all possible. Sure, it was possible this could be yet another Phish fake out, but those fears were put to rest when the band hung onto the E chord in “Sample,” before launching into the only jammed out version of that song. So when “Lawn Boy” followed, everyone knew what to expect.  

Yet, even with Phish telegraphing their hand in a way they rarely have over the course of their career, it’s safe to say that no one quite expected a half-hour version of “Lawn Boy”.  It’s not just the length that sets this “Lawn Boy” apart. This jam is as good as it is long. The band locks into a captivating space-funk groove and stays there for long enough to shake MSG from its foundation. Trey then ups the ante and launches into a double-time jam that recalls so many 1997 odysseys. The jam concludes by morphing into “My Friend My Friend,” while the song itself is finally finished at the end of the “Julius” encore. There is almost certainly no other single performance of any Phish song that so radically redefined its place in the band’s canon. Never one to let a good joke pass, Phish reprised a funk-infused variation on “Lawn Boy” during the encore of the final “Baker’s” show, with Page explaining that a lot of people have been asking him, “Is this still ‘Lawn Boy’?” “It is,” he noted. So, depending on your perspective, the longest jam Phish has played is either the 11/29/97Runaway Jim,” clocking in at just under an hour, or the Baker’s Dozen “Lawn Boy,” which lasted just over twelve days.

Page fans will certainly want to check out the first set of Phish’s performance on 7/19/03. This set featured consecutive appearances of “NICU,” “Rocky Top,” and “Ya Mar,” all songs where Trey encourages Page to “Play it, Leo!” After Trey coined these songs “The Leo Trio” the spotlight continued to shine on Page, as he stepped out for an inspired “Lawn Boy."

Versions of “Lawn Boy” where Page was joined by guests can be found in Vida Blue’s performances on 4/9/03 with Kyle Gass (of Trainwreck and Tenacious D fame) on acoustic guitar and vocals and 1/10/04 with Jamie Masefield on mandolin. Trey has also performed the tune four times without Page: at the 11/14/05 TAB gig with Trey on acoustic guitar and the song’s co-author Tom Marshall on vocals, and on 2/20/11, 2/23/11 and 3/1/11 with Trey on acoustic guitar and vocals, Tony Markellis on bass and Russ Remington on drums.

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Is this still the “Lawn Boy” song history? Well, if you’ve made it this far, you’ve earned it: Ladies and Gentlemen, The Chairman of the Boards...

Watch Lawn Boy on YouTube ”Lawn Boy” -- 7/25/17, New York, NY

Albums: Slip Stitch and Pass, Lawn Boy, At the Roxy, Hampton Comes Alive, Live Phish 16, Hampton/Winston-Salem '97, Alpine Valley, Ventura


© Who Is She? Music, Inc (BMI)

Throughout the night
When there's no direct light
And a thin veil of clouds
Keeps the stars out of sight

I can smell the colors
Outside on my lawn
The moist green organic
That my feet tread upon

And the black oleander
Surrounded by blues
I'm soon overwhelmed
By olfactory hues

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