I’m taking the message of my last essay “Lobe and Light” to heart, and reaching out to as many people as I can to let them know just how much they mean to me. The other night, I realized there was someone I had not done that to yet. Someone who on a daily basis inspires me, moves me, and provides joy in a world that tries to take that away.
Time to change that.
Dear Trey Anastasio,
I absolutely LOBE you. Let me give you three reasons why.
1. Phish and your Guitar
For 26 years, I’ve watched you bend time and space so many times, over so many years, over so many shows, and so many recordings. There is no other musician I listen to with such attention and with such a critical ear.
I want to take in every note you’ve ever played. I want to remember them all. All the moments you’ve moved me to dance, wonder at the Ethereal Plane, and most importantly move me to tears. Nobody’s guitar has done more for my soul. You can play to a crowd of 25,000, yet every note feels like you are playing directly to me.
The comfort of your familiar tone is the quickest escape from harsh realities. I can put on the 11/18/1996 Memphis “Simple”, the 08/17/1993 KC “Fast Enough for You” or the 10/29/2013 Reading “Down With Disease”, and no matter how I’m feeling, I instantly feel 4680 times better.
What a gift that is. No matter where I go, or what I’m doing, your guitar is always there. It provides comfort and excitement in a world where those two things get harder to find.
Your unwavering work ethic to Phish is as important as the music you make. You work on your craft constantly (rebuilding your tone and rig as a prime example), and continue to push yourself musically. You wake up with gratitude in your heart and then pump out song after song. At a time when musicians your age are usually slowing down, you are ramping up.
The pandemic revealed your dedication and work ethic. From recording on your iPhone in your apartment, to the bonkers Beacon Jams, to pushing Phish songs to reach places they have never been, forging forward with TAB despite adversity, it’s simply breathtaking to watch you work so hard.
No matter what your job is, it’s hard to get up day after day, year after year, decade after decade and try to push forward into new territory.
I respect the hell out of you for that, and it inspires me every day.
2. Your relationships with everyone around you.
As I’ve gotten older and learned more and more about the person behind the guitar, the prouder I am to be such a big fan. In my 26 years following Phish, I’ve never heard someone say anything bad about Trey Anastasio. In fact it’s simply heartwarming to hear what others say about you. A “pleasure to work with” dominates any recap of someone meeting Trey.
Deep friendships are such an important part of my life. Watching you look at and talk about the other members of Phish is an absolute delight. Every glance at Fish, Page, and Mike is exactly how I look at my friends.. Understanding everything you’ve been through and how grateful you are to spend each moment with them. The way you speak about your friends and colleagues is full of such love and beauty. I could listen to you talk about the people in your life forever.
Bands simply don’t last as long as Phish. Egos, animosity, and money force bands into directions that often lead to a band’s demise. Phish has persevered through passion, friendship, and love. The love you have for your three best friends translates to the crowd. It’s pretty intense to see Phish with your best friends and watch the love you have for your best friends. You get to watch love on stage and at the same time you are experiencing it with the people you care about. It’s beyond powerful.
I try to treat people with respect, empathy, compassion, and love. I work to be better at it every day.
It motivates me to watch you work on a professional and personal level when so many people look to you for support, guidance, and reverence. You’ve laid out a roadmap for so many of us to follow. People with fame are often full of themselves, I’m just so glad that the person I’m writing this letter to is so full of love. That matters to me.
Life is fucking hard. It’s really fucking hard. It got you. It brought you down into the darkest of times.
So many people are going through that. No matter who they are, where they come from, or what age they might be. Life will challenge you.
It got my sister. A wonderful person who had everything going for her had her life completely derailed in a 6-month period. She met a guy who turned her on to heroin, and in the blink of an eye she sold everything she had, started running product, and was completely addicted.
I watched my fun-loving sister become a shell of the person I knew and loved.
She got help, and I’ll never forget the phone call she made to me on her way to rehab. She called me crying like I’ve never heard her cry in her life. She said she was so sorry for what she had done to her family and how scared she was. I just told her I loved her and was proud of her for getting help.
Once checked into rehab, she immediately wanted to check out. I felt so lost and hopeless.
I started researching and reading about other people’s experiences like my sister’s. It helped. I knew that just like with you Trey, that my sister was still the great human she had always been. We just had to bring her back.
Before she had gone to rehab she had been arrested on trafficking accounts. It was frightening. Luckily, Drug Court stepped in and saw that she was trying to become a better person.
Knowing your story and how publicly you supported Drug Court gave me immense comfort. I read every interview and listened to every speech you ever gave on the topic. Knowing where you had come from and where you were as a person in 2016 (when this happened to her) gave me so much hope. Hope is so powerful. So damn powerful.
When my sister asked me to be the speaker at her Drug Court graduation it might have been the biggest honor of my life. The day of her graduation all the police officers, judges, and anyone who had worked with her couldn’t wait to tell me how proud of her they were. How she was a role model for other people going through the same thing.
The Lobe and Light that was almost taken away from sister had returned. She had fixed herself and was now becoming an inspiration to others. Just like with my hero Trey Anastasio.
When I gave my speech, you better believe I quoted my hero from Phish when talking about my hero in my family. It was special. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your story and helping me be the best brother I could have been.
Your perseverance, Trey, has changed both my sister’s life and my life. Without Phish returning along with your remarkable recovery and 15 years of sobriety, I wouldn’t have met so many of my closest friends. So many of them are now working together to help make the world a better place.
The creation of the Divided Sky Fund is something that hits me on every level. From my own personal family experience, to reading about yours, to so many other emotional stories I read in the Phish community.
To know that the leader of my favorite band is working so hard to fight such an important issue is something that matters to me. It matters so much.
It’s easy to cheer for a 20 minute jam that takes me to Jupiter.
It’s even more rewarding when I know the man behind it is working so hard to make himself a better person, his friends feel loved, and the world a better place.
Thank you Trey Anastasio for the impact you’ve had on my life since a 15-year old kid discovered you. Now, this 41-year old man loves you with all of his heart, appreciating 26 years incredible years together, and looking forward to the next 26.
I’m sorry it took me this long to say this to you, it’s hard to find the words to tell someone that they mean this much to you.
Myke “LawnMemo” Menio