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Response to Bennyboy (Original post)

Sun Jun 17, 2012, 01:40 PM

34. Ask The Fish: LEFTOVER SALMON!

 



ASK THE FISH




Every "Ask The Fish" is different, unique, musically and lyrically.
Some of the same words and sounds pop up every time, but lots of new
territory is explored as well. Vince always spouts some new
improvisational poetry, making up verses and modifying nursery rhymes to
suit the purposes of the fish, incorporating references to popular culture
and songs, and to the geographical location of that particular show, the
venue, the nearest rivers and environmental concerns, the vibe of the
crowd. The crowd feels the special energy of communication between
performer and audience when the lyrics apply directly to that specific
moment. We can affirm an environmental lesson from the lyrics, but we
don't feel preached at. The sheer joy of dancing is conflated with the
serious concerns of our world, in a progressive prankster approach that
makes you feel good about caring about the fish. Vince can sure make up
some motivational words right there on the spot, and make it sound good.
His vocal phrasings are assorted and appropriate to the words he is making
up and the progression of the musical jam occurring. The music itself is
just as loose as the lyrics, incorporating weird instruments, sound
effects, and bridging and blending styles, rising and falling from the
psychedelic intro to the ripping bluegrass breakdown, the central space jam
in the dream segment, and the climactic soloing. The on-stage anticacious
approaches to instrumentation have been accented with squeaking rubber fish
bath-toys, the celestial sounds of the waterphone (a water-filled metallic
instrument that Mark resonated with a fiddle bow), Tye singing bass notes
in the monastic tradition, and a variety of Hendrixian effects by way of
Drew's pickin' and fiddlin'. "Ask The Fish" is a true Leftover Salmon
original, taking their polyethnic influences and molding them into a fish
form, with each of Leftover Salmon's five members shining and contributing
to the aquatic audio environment. The song is the title track of their
first live album (*Ask The Fish*, 1995) where the tune clocks in at nearly
9 minutes. Indeed, the song is often the improvisational centerpiece of
Leftover Salmon concert festivities. If you want to really understand why
this is such a great song, just remember, you must ask the fish.

Here is my attempt to transcribe some of Vince's lyrical wanderings
in various live versions of "Ask The Fish." I have incorporated some
lyrics from several versions. Stanzas that are unique to a particular show
are marked with the date, and the basic words that generally occur in some
form in most of the versions are unmarked. Keep in mind it's different
every time, and this is just the way I heard it and it's not all accurate.

><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><>

Lyrics:

"ASK THE FISH" (Leftover Salmon)

Folks, we hate to do this to you at this point. We've got a trail on the
Mayor. The kidnappers have fessed up, and they're putting up a ransom
note. With this instrument right now, what we're gonna do is we're gonna
try to get ahold of the Mayor, through this device, man. We've used it in
the past as a fish locator, but we're gonna try to pull in the Mayor one
time. This thing's called a waterphone, and this one is Mark's fault.
(4/8/95)

You know the waters off of Boston used to be some of the richest fishing
grounds in the entire world. And, well, all the fish seem to be going on
vacation somewhere for a while, until we get our shit together. Here's one
for the fish. (4/11/96)

Fishy
Oh, fish
Where'd all the fish go?
You must ask the fish.
Do you know anything about the water?
Fishy?
That Fulton Fish Market looks mighty empty these days (4/8/95)
you know what I'm saying?
Where'd all the fish go is what I wanna know
Fishy!
Might just have to ask the fish
Fishy!

Well ask the fish 'cause the fish he knows
Ask the fish why the water won't flow
Too many dams and docks in the rivers you know
The fish can't swim when the water don't flow
Fish fishy fish-eye view
He's a-looking at you
What's a fish gonna do
When rivers don't run through
Fishy asking you
What you gonna do

I dreamt I was a red tail hawk (9/27/95)
Flying over the mountains
All the trees were gone
Water was only in the fountains
And the fish were gone
It was a sad sad dawn
And the fog rolled on
But the water and trees were gone
Ask the fish, I think he'll know
Ask the fish where the forest goes
They don't live in trees but I think they'll know
'Cause the fish knows where the water flows

How about a six hundred pound catfish (4/11/96)
Making its way up the Saint Charles River
Ahhhhhh what's going on here?
It's a beautiful sunny day
And there're beautiful white sailboats on the river
And this ix hundred pound catfish is making its way upstream
He gets to this big ol' pipe sticking out of the riverbank
And it's dripping this green toxic smelling ooze
And this big ol' catfish just gets the blues
Wants to know what's going on with his home
You know, trying to figure out, what are these people doing?
First the catfish gets the blues, you know
Then he makes it a little furthur up river to see some more of that
Pretty soon that catfish is gonna start getting pissed
One of these days
There's gonna be an army of about six thousand catfish
Start heading down Mass Ave going
Who doin' that? Who doin' it?
Then it might be a little too late to ask the fish.
What you gotta do?
You gotta get down there to the Saint Charles
And you gotta get a little mask on there
And stick your head under there
And start going balubalabubbububub
In a coupla seconds this fish will walk right up to you
Saying, you may ask the fish
I don't know what you're gonna say, man
But you better have some attention to pay
Ask the fish about the people
Yeah, water spirits dancing in my head
Make me glad the fish aren't all dead
Water spirits dancing in my head
Make me glad that the fish aren't dead
And the fish live on
Ask the fish
'Cause I think he'll know
Used to be a river but it became a green
And I just wonder
what happened to the dream
Too many dams and docks you know
The fish can't swim when the river won't flow

I had a dream about a fish
And I wonder what it means
Dreamt I was a fish trying to get up stream
I wonder about the fish and I wonder what it means
When fish can't get home and I'm having fish dreams

Fish fishy take a fish-eye view
Fish fishy here's looking at you
You gotta question 'em too
Fish are talking to you
What's a fish gonna do
Gotta break on through
Adopt a fish-eye view
Ask the fish

Well, ah, hey fishy fishy
Ask the fish
Fish starting to wonder why it can't get home no more
Like the bud comes toward him and it just flows away like smoke (4/8/95)
And the fish can't get home no more
The fish has a few questions he'd like to ask

Ask the fish and I think you'll know
Ask the fish why the water won't flow
Banks clogged with barges, dams and docks you know
Fish can't swim where the water don't go
Fish fishy take a fish-eye view
Fish fish is a-lookin' at you
Fish asking you to take a fish-eye view

Fishy
Ask the fish

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Bennyboy Jun 2012 OP
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LineReply Ask The Fish: LEFTOVER SALMON!
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