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Flashback: Neil Young and Phish Play an Epic, Weed-Fueled ‘Down by the River’

Without any warning, Young came out during Phish’s 1998 Farm Aid set and jammed with them on his Crazy Horse classic

Phish have been dropping Neil Young covers into their live set ever since they first played “Cinnamon Girl” at Gallagher’s Bar & Grill in their native Vermont back in 1989. Over the years, they added “Albuquerque” and “Come On Baby Let’s Go Downtown” into the mix, but they never got a chance to hang with him until they showed up at the New World Music Theatre in Tinley Park, Illinois, for Farm Aid on October 3rd, 1998.

It was an overwhelming day for Trey Anastasio that’s forever burned in his brain. It began when he got the chance to go onto Willie Nelson’s bus where they got “obliterated” on weed and made plans to perform “Moonlight in Vermont” together. “I’m like, crippled,” he told the crowd at a Nashville concert in 2019, “trying to get off the bus, trying to find the door. ‘Ok. ‘Moonlight In Vermont …’ I gotta learn this song, learn the chords.’”

He then walked over to Neil Young’s bus and found that Woody Harrelson was there too. “So there I get high on Neil’s bus,” he said. “Now I’m getting more crippled.” But despite being stoned out of his mind, he managed to make plans to bring Young out during Phish’s set later in the day so they could play “Powderfinger” together. “I start walking off the bus,” Anastasio says, “and just as I’m walking off, Neil says, ‘You know, I don’t like to … I’m not that good at plannin’ stuff.’”

They learned what he meant when they watched his set from the side of the stage and he closed it out with “Powderfinger.” Anastasio took that as a sign that Young had changed his mind about a jam, but midway through Phish’s set he heard someone else start playing guitar.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Andy Greene on Rolling Stone Magazine

Published: May 28, 2020

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