Originally Performed ByPhish
Appears On
VocalsTrey (lead) Page (backing)
Phish Debut1998-10-17
Last Played2019-11-29
Current Gap193
HistorianMark Toscano, Elayne Best
Last Update2020-05-21


“Sleep” premiered at Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit on 10/17/98, leveraging the advantage of an all-acoustic setup. Played only sporadically since, the song usually acts as a breather for the band and the audience, and occasionally as an opening encore tune.

“Sleep” nicely describes the feeling of trying to remember thoughts and ideas generated during lucid sleep, immediately prior to waking. Tom and Trey penned the song during one of their writing and recording sessions at the legendary Stowe, VT farmhouse. Tom’s lyrics are some of his most evocative, and Trey’s wonderful main guitar line is a perfect marriage of simplicity and thoughtfulness in composition.

Versions of “Sleep” don’t differ from show to show, although this is not a bad thing. Played several times on the fall 1998 tour (10/29/98, 11/11/98, 11/18/98, 11/25/98, and 12/28/98), “Sleep” reappeared the following year only twice (7/8/99 and 7/26/99). 

"Sleep" from Bittersweet Motel

Two performances of the tune can be found among Trey’s 1999 solo shows, on 5/11/99 (with Tom) and 5/13/99, both with Trey playing piano rather than guitar. Trey offered several solo acoustic renditions during TAB performances during Phish’s breakup, on 9/3/05, 11/3/05, and 11/3/06.  

The 2000 release of Farmhouse indicated that the band had not forgotten this likable tune – as they seemingly had with its brethren “Waking Up” and “Never.” Be sure to check out the 6/14/00 Fukuoka, Japan version (LivePhish 04), or the only Phish 2.0 appearance, during the first set of 2/28/03, widely regarded as one of the best two-set shows in Phish history.

“Sleep” found its way into two summer shows in 2009 (6/16/09 and 8/7/09), on 8/17/11 in Chicago, and finally on 7/3/19 in Saratoga, NY.

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