Recently I had another Phish fan ask me, “What is the meaning of the lyrics to the song, “Walfredo”? Well, I’m glad you asked! I will try to explain, as most people have no idea. Basically this song is about Phish’s version of “Where’s Wally/Waldo!”.
Let me rewind..
Back in the 80s, when I played the Northeast (particularly Vermont) with David Lindley & El Rayo - X, I could always count on seeing four young lads, full of energy and enthusiasm, smiling in the audience.
Time went forward and after their third album, when they became really popular as a band, they opened for Santana shows in 1990 when I was drumming for Santana Band (’89 -‐ ’93). They jammed with us, and I had the referenced “paint splattered drum kit.” Jon “Fish” Fishman sat in and “played his vacuum” cleaner, which I thought was brilliant and unique! Also, weird weather changes (“… snow fell in Vail, Colorado”) were already happening in spring/summer time by then.
The next time they came to see Santana I was gone and “Rodney” Holmes was playing drums. I went on to tour with Traffic and Steve Winwood from ’94 -‐ ’04, so when they sing the chorus -‐ “Where did you go? How much did you get paid?” -‐ that’s what it references.
I was, and still am, a touring/studio musician and not a permanent member of any of the bands I have worked with -‐ not necessarily by choice. At the time, I think they could not understand this concept. Later on they did and they sure do now as they have matured in this music biz of ours and have projects of their own.
What is not in this song is that later on (1997) Trey Anastasio jammed with Steve Winwood, and I recorded with Mike Gordon in the studio. Phish grew into an amazing band and became, individually, amazing musicians, husbands and fathers. I am so proud of these young lads, with their high energy, passion and enthusiasm, who came to see me play with David Lindley back in the ’80s. I am honored that my playing and personality influenced them and their composition bears my name.
In 2000, coming back from France after touring with Johnny Hallyday, I played The Tonight Show with Jay Leno with The Winans (gospel singers); Phish were also there as guests. Afterwards they took me inside their tour bus and said, “Wally, check this out; we wrote a tune we hope you will like.” With Trey on acoustic guitar and the rest of the band on vocals I heard the song for the first time. I remembered feeling the song had humor, nostalgia and memories of those times from different points of view. I was honored that they took the time to capture moments in time of my life and theirs.
The band swaps and plays different instruments than their usual when they perform this fun song in concert. It is also one of the few Phish songs the entire band wrote together.
I hope this sheds some light on better understanding the lyrics of “Walfredo.”
Since I wrote this Blog, I went with a new friend to the Phish concert at The LA Forum October 24th, 2014 and it was AMAZING!! I am very proud of this band. They kicked ass, the sound man and the Lighting man are out of this World amazing!!!!
They performed “Walfredo” at the shows in San Fransisco, CA . Please go and catch these guys and promise you it will be a unforgettable experience. Im an official PhishHead!!!!