Reflections on the End of Phish

Who can unlearn all the facts that I’ve learned?

Here’s what I’ve learned: music is a confusing scene these days. Not too long ago, the rise of pop and the emergence of rap as a genre with some extra-urban (read: non-Black) credibility, music starting getting diluted. It’s evident today with the bland swill offered up by Usher, Li’l Jon, and countless other “I’m ghetto even though I’m Oh-So-Mainstream” wannabes. I just don’t think you can have a bad boy street image and appeal to tweenage girls. Rap is best left to people like Doctor Dre and Jay Z, not signed-because-they’re-fancyboys like Chingy.

On the other hand, these days, you also have bands that are discovering some interesting corners of music, like Yellowcard and The Juliana Theory and Something Corporate, who are merging melody with an edge. You’ve got the new kings of jam, which include moe., SCI, DMB, and many others. You’ve got talented R&B artists who are appealing to wide audiences and yet, perplexingly, creating quality music too, like Destiny’s Child (although only time will tell if their newest offering has got the goods).

But in place of Phish, who, until maybe mid-2001 was a staple in my CD player, there is no substitute. No one has taken their space as reigning masters of music. In fact, I’ve rediscovered Rush, the polar opposite of Phish, Bjork, who can’t really be compared to Phish, Slayer, who are heavier than Phish would ever dream. There’s no consistency to the replacements. It’s just a smattering, a potpourri, a jumble.

I wonder if anyone can ascend to that level in the near future. To be legends in their own time, pioneers in a field where there’s not much left to pioneer, inspiration where there are millions to inspire.