How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love Phish

Last Friday, I encouraged readers to "justify your love" by explaining how and why you could love the seemingly unlovable. From Celine Dion to Audioslave, The Shaggs to The Spice Girls, people wrote in with their reasons for enjoying the music many of us find unpalatable.

But there was one reader who helped me see the light — or rather, who is going to help steer me down the path to potential enlightenment.

Cameron Norbert, you win!

An excerpt from Cameron's comment:

I love Phish. Phish embodies what I love about all music: excitement, energy, unpredictability and fun. They play because they love it, and it shows. They do jam, but as a group, feeding each other — like Jazz instead of Jam. It's not the solo-heavy crap that occupies most "jam" music.

They have shared the stage with Neil young, Jay-Z, B.B. King, Alison Krauss and even Bruce Springsteen — so obviously fellow artists take them seriously. But amongst the public, they still carry such a stigma.

Phish turned me on to My Bloody Valentine, Pavement, Django Reinhardt, The Talking Heads, plus many more. I could recommend any of those bands to you with no trouble, but mention the band that led me to them, and I'm laughed out of the room.

Not anymore, Cameron. This week, your Monitor Mix host will journey down the path to conversion. But I need your help: If you are a Phish lover — and I know you're out there — please steer me toward the right albums, concert footage and songs. Keep me sheltered from the bands' musical missteps and anything that might impede this affection, which has been buried deep for far too long, just waiting to be awakened.

Why Phish, you ask? Well, as far as I'm concerned, Phish occupies a unique space in music: It is extremely popular with a large group of people, yet simultaneously misunderstood, judged and dismissed by another — particularly self-identified music snobs, indie rockers and a whole slew of other folks. Unlike other frequently maligned bands that have an equally maligned fan base, such as The Grateful Dead (whom I love) or the Dave Matthews Band (whom I don't love), Phish has never had a radio hit for non-fans to use as fodder or evidence. In fact — and this is the most shocking, and what makes the band a rare breed — many Phish-phobes have never even heard Phish's music!

Phish is a band that some people intuitively don't like; it is the liverwurst, the Twilight book series, and the waterbeds of the music industry! And why should it be? This dismissal of Phish by a large portion of us is both unfair and unwarranted. And that's why I'm willing to change.

So, this week, the theme is: The Conversion, a.k.a. How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Phish. All week, I'll be updating my blog with photos, video and writing about my progress. I don't know if it's actually possible to convert to a band in one week, but I'm going to try.

First stop: off to buy Ben & Jerry's Phish Food ice cream. Then, to the record store!

Non-Phish-lovers, please join in on the challenge! Phish fans? Help us get there! Leave your advice in the comments section.

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