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Phish - Sample in a Jar - Lyrics Meaning



This song was released on Phish's fifth studio album in 1994, which was titled Hoist. The song has simple lyrics and is about a time when the lead singer, Trey Anastasio, became intoxicated at a bar and had to be escorted home. Anastasio says he is alert to "all the glances and the glares" from other people watching him becoming increasingly drunk. He also mentions there were many times when his friends paid no attention to how much he was drinking and that they knew he'd "soon end up end up". This is in reference to the decreased motor skills that someone under the influence might exhibit, which usually results in a fall. He is then helped to the car by his friends because he is too inebriated to make it himself. They strap him in for the ride home, hence the reference to "the binding belt enclosing me" and he feels like a specimen or "sample" in a jar.

Anastasio is referring to the alcohol when he says that it tricked him and his friends. "The simple smiles and good times seem all wrong" means that the group had fun while they were drinking, but afterwards the money has all been spent and all he is left with is a hangover, which make him feel like he has been duped. Anastasio minored in philosophy in college, and the names Elihu and Leemor are in reference to philosophers he studied in school. Trey saw them dancing on the bed as part of his drunken visions during the ride home.




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