As some of you know, the early days of the internet circa 1998 were integral in shaping a very formative ten year period in which I built friendships, expanded my worldview through music and journeyed across the country to see live music. I recall using MapQuest to plan my routes, estimate drive times, total mileage, estimate fuel consumption/costs and learn the ins and outs of the U.S. Interstate Highways system, using probably some funky early version of the Netscape browser and integrated Yahoo search to find phone numbers and addresses for campgrounds and state parks along the way. This playlist begins with a song by Phish and then features additional artists I discovered because of the eclectic musical influences that Phish showcased through their covers.

Funky Bitch by Son Seals

A nod to the band’s undeniable rhythm & blues roots, this cover of the guitar heavy Son Seals tune features bassist Mike Gordon on vocals and some grinding B3 organ by Page McConnell. I had the chance to see Son Seals open for Phish at their New Years 1999 Big Cypress Swamp festival and Seals made several guest appearances with the band earlier in 1999, one of which I saw in Oswego NY where Seals joined the band for Funky Bitch and On My Knees. I recall thinking of Seals as the most bad-ass, peg-legged blues guitarist I’d ever seen shred!

Aqui Como Alla by Marc Ribot y Los Cubanos

This song from the Y Los Cubanos Postizos (And The Fake Cubans) was featured during the set break at one of my first Phish shows which may or may not have been at the Deer Creek Amphitheater in Noblesville, Indiana in 1997. I remember the slow build and the false starts and also that it took a lot of research after the show to find out what I had heard in the days before Shazam and streaming music services like Spotify and Apple Music. In discovering Marc Ribot I learned that I recognized his distinct guitar tone from his work as a session musician on many Tom Waits albums. This Phish show also featured covers of Cities (Talking Heads ) and Good Times, Bad Times (Led Zeppelin).

Peaches En Regalia by Frank Zappa

On a few rare occasions, Phish would bust out this Zappa tune, originally released on his 1969 album, Hot Rats. I first heard the Phish cover on a audience recording of a live show and was amazed to discover the complexly arranged, jazz-inspired composition at the core of Frank Zappa’s bizarre brand of Rock n’ Roll. Despite seeing Phish live in concert more than 50 times, I never heard them play this rare cover.

Born Under Punches by The Talking Heads

When I was 13 I found a loophole in a CD by mail program and scored 20-30 CDs for a few dollars. At the core of that early collection was a two-disc Talking Heads greatest hits collection Popular Favorites 1976–1992: Sand in the Vaseline. So by the time I heard Phish cover “Born Under Punches” as part of it’s musical costume full album cover of Remain in Light on Halloween 1996, I was familiar with the song and the strange range of the Talking Heads. However, the full album experience of Remain in Light taught me to think differently about hits and look deeper at the art of album sequencing.

So Lonely by The Police

This cover by Phish featured Jon Fishman on vocals which was super appropriate as I’d later learn that Police drummer, Stuart Copeland was one of few rock drummers of the era to contribute substantial song-writing duties as does Fishman. Fishman’s falsetto vocals and reggae influenced percussion made this song his own.


This post is based on the Project Playlist activity from the Mozilla Foundation’s Core Web Literacy curriculum. For the actual assignment I’ll have students use text editors (Notepad or TextEdit) instead of requiring web hosting and show them how to change file extensions from .txt to .html to load their playlist pages in a web browser on their own computers.