It may be odd to begin this final part with the epilogue of the essay, but it feels like the right way to approach an introduction to the final installment of this saga. First, I want to give my appreciation and a big thankful shout-out to @OrangeSox for his assistance and contributions to this essay. He’s been pushing me to keep plugging away for the past couple of years every time the topic has come up, and it’s unlikely it would have ever been completed without his help. The four parts of this essay will next be combined into one and move to a new permanent home within phish.net, just one part of a large push for new content for the site to celebrate the band’s coming Ruby Anniversary year.
There have been many endings to this essay as a result of the uncertainty accompanying the ongoing public health emergency. The first ending came with the postponement of the Summer 2020 tour, following the excitement of Sigma Oasis and the first few Dinner and a Movie episodes. The next ending followed the Beacon Jams when we could almost taste the eventual return to live concerts. Again, I attempted to end it just before the Summer tour of 2021, but the Delta variant, rising cases, and more uncertainty made me decide to wait and see. When I returned to the office, my computer still had the web page showing the news from March 2020, discussing what may happen “if it hit America.” I got chills going back in time. Then, after the end of the Fall Tour, Omicron emerged, and even though we had vaccines and the new variant seemed less dangerous, it was clear the essay would not end yet.
Here we are now, finally making a conclusion to the work, even while we are still getting ill, variants give way to subvariants, long COVID continues for people that got the virus in the months past, many countries still lack access to a vaccine, and it seems masks may be here to stay. The pandemic is over inasmuch as it seems to have become endemic, but it’s clear our world has finally been functioning “normally” again. So, following the second post-pandemic Summer Phish tour and the recent announcement for another run of shows for New Year’s at MSG, we feel like the April Earth Day run is the right place to mark the end of the era.
When me and my “best Phish friend” Aaron saw Phish again after the postponement, in Atlantic City 2021, I was amazed that we were all back together. It had been a few weeks before when Phish finally hit the road again. I personally always said COVID will be over when Phish hits the stage. Boy, man, god, shit was I wrong. I have come full circle in making this all evolve around Phish. Today, It doesn’t really feel “over” exactly. For me, the quarantine days will always be linked to the Black Lives Matter protest, the public health crisis posed by the novel virus, and a general new shift for America and the world, in what direction I can’t specifically say. Clearly, there is and will likely always be much more to be done on all these fronts.
Despite all that is wrong, we still have art, the beauty of music, and the hilarity of life. Idealistic lyrics and protest songs may not change anything, but the vibration of music, the heartbeat of the drum, and the community of a live show do. We write our own songs woven into our lives together with our friends and families. Despite all the tragedies and difficulties of the last two years we remain, together on a great big boat in this one big ocean...and the ocean is Love.
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