Things I’m Learning (Grudgingly) from My Husband the Phish Fan


You’d never guess this man is a closet hippie. But wait: check out his daughter’s shirt!

Here are a few facts about my husband: He is a dentist, a business owner. He sings in the church choir. He is just this week finishing up his year-long tenure as President of his Rotary Club. When he’s stressed, he cleans our house with such intensity that I just stay out of his way and let him do his thing. He has, at least once, described himself as “metrosexual”.

He’s a fashionable, somewhat anal-retentive, civically minded, well-respected guy. He doesn’t seem like the most likely candidate to be spotted in a parking lot outside a Phish show, waiting in line to make a purchase from a vendor called “You Enjoy My Socks”. And yet, he has done this very thing. He has dressed our three girls in Phish clothing, sung them Phish lullabies, and let them stay up late to watch the live-stream of Phish’s New Year’s Show.

My husband has been to a total of 21 Phish shows, which in the Phish community is nothing to write home about. But if he wants to stay happily married, he knows that his Phish exploits must be limited to no more than four, maybe five shows a year. I’m sorry, Phish world, if that seems like a major bummer. It’s just that I have three small children- I like having my husband around.


Mmm hmm. Yeah. Somebody bought him PHISH CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS.

Come with me! he always says, when the tour schedule is released. (I have somehow been subscribed to Phish emails, which is actually great because I have a heads-up when my husband is about to approach me with his grand plan for the season.) It would be more fun with you there! It’s a sweet sentiment, and I love that he really believes that. The fact, though, is that I am not a whole lot of fun at a Phish show.

Case in point: the last show we went to was in Atlanta in August. It was 800 degrees in the parking lot and, with a four-month-old at home, I had brought my hand-held breast pump with me. Sitting in a camping chair under the one shred of shade available, covered in my nursing shawl, manually expressing breast milk while a stranger offered me Molly? Not my finest moment. (Although certainly not the strangest thing happening in that particular parking lot at the time.)

I’ve been to a total of three Phish shows, and each time my husband is desperately hoping that THIS time, I will get it. A 24-minute jam will stir something sleeping deep within me. I will dance with abandon. I will think that a middle-aged man wearing a dress and playing a song on a vacuum cleaner is the BEST THING EVER.


Is something incredibly exciting about to happen? Probably not.

But I don’t. I just don’t. And on the eve of another Phish-scapade, one I have agreed to be a part of, I’m trying to figure out how not to be a buzzkill. I’m trying to take my husband’s love of this band and their music and channel it into something that feels relevant to me. He really is enthusiastic and supportive about my writing – the least I can do is try to appreciate this thing that makes my professional, responsible husband grin and dance himself into a sweaty frenzy and forget about all his troubles.

So here’s my takeaway, my Life Lesson from Phish, in brief:

I will dare to embrace the unpredictable, disorderly nature of Phish’s music. It’s hard for me; because of the kids, my life is already full of disorder and unpredictability, and so I like my music tidy. But I know, just as any mother does, that there’s beauty in the chaos. I will do my best to remember this, to be open to the unexpected.

I will let my husband’s devotion to Phish inspire me. His borderline obsessive behavior (he just logged on to his account to show me his show stats) is proof that being a parent and having a passion outside of that role are not mutually exclusive. Phish may not be for me, but I do have my own interests- book clubs, blogging, yoga, photography- and it’s okay to be unapologetic about the time I spend nurturing myself and my creativity.

I will make an effort to find meaning in a lyric that my husband has called his “Call to Action”, this repeated line from the song “Chalkdust Torture”:

Can’t I live while I’m young?
Can’t I live while I’m young?
Can’t I live while I’m young?
Can’t I live while I’m young?

I have only been to three Phish shows- soon to be five- but from my limited experience I can still hear the crowd singing along in hearty agreement. All of them, from the itinerant who hawks geodes on Shakedown Street to the tie-dyed frat boy to the suburban dad, are there for the same reason: to be part of a common experience that makes them feel alive.

Or so I’ve heard. I’ll just be there to support a spouse who can’t seem to live without Phish. There are worse things. With this in mind, I’ll try to enjoy it. Who knows, I might even dance.


The Phish robot shirt moves on to child #2, who is fully, bravely, living while she’s young. 





15 thoughts on “Things I’m Learning (Grudgingly) from My Husband the Phish Fan

  1. Heather L says:

    In my circle of friends, I am the lone “Phish wife”. It is refreshing and simultaneously hilarious to read this post. Thank you for so eloquently stating what I have been telling my husband for years!


  2. Katee says:

    I am with you sister. I couldn’t agree more with this post. You are not alone. I try and try to understand but I never will. The least we can do is be supportive. Carry on and be strong. Much love.

    -Katee (a fellow phish wife)


  3. Margi says:

    My husband showed me this blog post (it must be making the rounds through the phish news outlets, kudos!)

    I always joke that I want to start a support group for spouses of phish fans. A great read and very relatable to the rest of us out there!


  4. Stacy says:

    Oh my, this is spot on! My husband forwarded it to me this morning and all I could do was laugh. The ironic thing is, I was the one who introduced him to Phish! I had been experimenting with different kinds of music in college and liked the A Picture of Nectar album. But I never really “got it.” (He keeps hoping though.) Trey played with the Seattle symphony a couple of years ago, and I can honestly say that I enjoyed that show. Maybe there is hope after all. Haha!


  5. Travis Neighbor Ward says:

    Great article! Very funny! My husband is a diehard Radiohead fan. AUUUGGGHHH! I’ve tried, I swear. I really like one of their songs. I know they’re amazing musicians, but I… just… can’t… take… it.


  6. Renna Welborn says:

    My husband sent me this blog because it’s as if I wrote it. To. A. Tee. My husband is a business owner (restaurant), a dad of 3, anal retentive, been to countless Phish shows (me only 3- and probably no more- you are a better wife than me), and reads phish boards nightly before bed. Not kidding it’s like you wrote our lives out on this blog. I cracked up reading it and my husband still said “see you should go to a show with me soon”. We got different points out of it! 😉. And now you have a gained a new follower of your blog! Kudos!


  7. Kristine says:

    I think we are living the same life (minus the kids). There is something beautiful about all the experiences you described and the pure adoration our husbands have for these four musicians and their music. This year I attended one show (my 4th) and my husband went on to travel to Chicago for two more shows (his total is now 26). We have found our balance in supporting each other. I laugh cried while reading this and thank you for your honesty and humor! Let’s have a glamping lot experience for ladies of Phish fans in the future!


  8. Megan says:

    Love this! My husband is currently on the other side of the country seeing Phish at the Gorge while I sit at home in my 6th month of pregnancy (he’s got 10 shows lined up this summer). Thanks for making us all feel less alone!


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