One Track Mind: Phish, “The Line” from Fuego (2014)

It’s interesting, this idea of defining moments. They are, after all, only moments. Things that can be added to, or subtracted from — built upon or forgotten. Music and sports tend to share in this sense of isolated triumph and/or defeat.

A song, just like a shot, can go awry. And in that blink of an eye, careers — maybe, lives — change. At least in the public’s imagination.

The rest of us might live down a bad night, might be forgiven an indiscretion. But not these guys. Maybe that’s what led Phish’s Trey Anastasio back to Darius Washington Jr., the Memphis freshman who made one-of-three free throws back in a 2005 conference tournament — when two would have sent his team to overtime, and three would have sent them to a coveted spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Phish, who have issued “The Line” ahead of the June 24, 2014 release Fuego on JEMP Records, doesn’t so much retell this shattering tale as talk about the way that these so-called defining moments are nothing of the sort, even for basketball players and rock stars. He’s walking determinedly away from the devastating pain of that “crucifixion shot.”

It has not, despite the way these things are so often portrayed, framed his life. As Phish returns after 10 years away, there’s a lesson here for all of us who have made those kind of mistakes — with or without a national audience looking on.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso