Also Sprach Zarathustra

Originally Performed ByStrauss, as interpreted by Deodato
Original AlbumPrelude (1972)
Appears On
Also Known As2001
Phish Debut1993-07-16
Last Played2024-02-24
Current Gap0
HistorianChris Bertolet (bertoletdown)
Last Update2016-03-03


This 1895 tone poem, one of the oldest compositions Phish has covered, achieved pop-culture prominence on the soundtrack to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. But Deodato’s discotheque remix – featured in the 1979 Hal Ashby film Being There – is clearly Phish’s direct inspiration. In the movie, the song serves as accompaniment to naïve savant Chauncey Gardener (Peter Sellers) as he takes his first solo stroll through the mean streets of the city and marvels in childlike wonder, oblivious to the peril that surrounds him. It seems fitting that Ashby chose this song to punctuate his hero’s worldly rebirth, since it also punctuates a moment of cosmic rebirth in Kubrick’s classic.

Deodato, "2001" – Prelude (1972)

 “2001” leapt onto the Phish playlist as a catalytic second set opener, and a showcase for Chris Kuroda’s operatic fog machine. And though it wasn’t jammed in its early years, “2001” often served as a springboard for centerpiece jams like “Mike’s,” “Maze,” “Bowie,” and “Antelope.” It even found itself sandwiched within the 7/16/94 Sugarbush “Harpua” on the first anniversary of its debut.

On 10/31/96, guest percussionist Karl Perazzo inspired Phish to extend the lead-in to each of the two ascending stanzas, locking down a chunky groove that stretched the song to a full seven minutes. Subsequent fall ‘96 versions (like 11/18 in Memphis and 12/6 in Las Vegas) earned “2001” bona fide jamming tune status, and offered a taste of the bovine funk that would lubricate Phish’s sound in 1997.

Phish, "2001" – 12/6/96, Las Vegas, NV

Throughout that year, “2001” remained one of the standard bearers for the new sound, and creative appearances abounded. At The Great Went on 8/17/97, Phish used loops to sustain a liquid soundscape as they painted a mural in the background. The 11/26/97 Hartford version glided out of “Character Zero” and into “Cities,” and featured extended “Super Bad” jamming in between. The expected 12/31/97 Madison Square Garden “2001” proved a visual feast as well as a sonic one, with morphing udder balls and breakfast foods projected onto an overhead screen. The 7/17/98 Gorge workout laid down a bed of relentless raunch, and set the stage for one of the finest “Mike’s Grooves” of the late ‘90s.

Phish, "2001" – 6/25/10, Camden, NJ

Since 1998, “2001” assumed a somewhat lower profile in the rotation (for obvious reasons, “2001” was not played at all in 2001), and gravitated away from deep-space improvisation. Still, must-hear versions abound. They include the seminal wake-and-bake from Big Cypress (simply jaw-dropping synth work from Page, and mysterious sampled "whooshing" sounds that would never be heard again); the 6/14/00 Fukuoka mix (tranced out); the 2/21/03 Cincinnati gem (listen for the artful quote of Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”); the uber-funky 12/30/03 Miami getdown (which teases “Sand” and “Gin,” and foreshadows the P-Funk Allstars guest shot later that night).

Notables of more recent vintage include: the 6/25/10 dance party in Camden, which honored Michael Jackson on the one-year anniversary of his passing by referencing “Wanna Be Startin' Somethin',” “Thriller,” and “Billie Jean”; the powerful 6/8/11 Darien reading laced with “What's the Use?” quotes; 6/8/12 Worcester, with “Sand,” “Sex Machine,” and “Mike's Song” teases; 10/20/13 Hampton, emerging from the shoestring take on “Takin’ Care of Business” – never miss a Sunday show; 10/27/13 Hartford, with Trey working over his Echoplex like Sugar Ray on the speed bag; and 7/8/14 The Mann, which offers funk relief to the cover-starved.

Phish, "2001" > “Harry Hood” > “Tweezer Reprise” – 7/8/14, Philadelphia, PA. Video by LazyLightning55a.

For the “2001” completist, be sure to check out the two instances when members of Phish have performed the song with Eumir Deodato: 5/14/05, during Particle’s opening set for TAB featuring guest appearances by Trey and Deodato, and 4/19/06, when Deodato joined Mickey Hart’s Rhythm Devils project that included Mike on bass.

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