New series: “Gateway Music”! Music can be addicting. Here’s the usual stages: 1. Hear a song- something clicks. 2. Find out the artist-is it a cover? 3. Sample some more- a video, an album, a bootleg, their entire discography… 4. That music stays with you- maybe not everything, but at least some. 5. You are now a fan.

Happens to me all the time! In fact, this stemmed from my latest epiphany! In this series, my progression of fandom. Where possible, I’ll provide the origin to hear. Follow down these various rabbit holes, and maybe you’ll be a fan too!

“Roses Are Free”

I was at work the other day. Long day. Fortunately, I had some heavy jams to help me get by. Specifically, I had recently downloaded Phish’s “Island Tour”. Someone had posted the series of shows in honor of their 20th anniversary. I’d never had the pleasure, so they were on deck, one a day. Along comes “Roses Are Free”. Mind blown!

How had I never heard the song before? Eventually I found out I actually had a few more Phish versions, but it had never clicked. Today it did. Maybe it was the killer connected 20+ minute Nassau Jam that pushed my appreciation over the edge.

Whatever it was, I decided to look it up. As it turned out, it was actually a Ween cover. To the best of my knowledge, I’d only heard one Ween song before (on an X-files soundtrack), and never thought much of them. Maybe there was more to them than I had dismissed.

I took to YouTube to see some more. First, their original “Roses Are Free”. Definitely reminded me of Prince (more on that later). Watched a few more music videos. Quirky, funny, lots of different styles blended together. Overall very good. Had me wanting more.

From there, I transitioned from the tv to my desktop, and set about downloading their discography and a handful of readily-available bootlegs. I’m in the process of consuming and evaluating everything right now. VERY diverse!

Just wading into the waters, I still think “Roses Are Free” is a top track, and I’m glad I’m getting into the band! Apparently I’m not the only one to have this connection either! From the song history on, here’s a selection of an interview with Ween regarding the song.

Aaron wrote this song and recorded it in his apartment in Stockton, NJ during the very fertile writing period preceding Chocolate and Cheese. There was no bass on it. I immediately fell in love with the song and thought it was the closest thing we’d ever recorded to truly emulate Prince, who is our musical hero. The demo was on four tracks with two vocals, drum machine and keyboard. I heard it as being symphonic. I think it’s ironic that as many times as we’ve worn our Prince inspiration on our sleeves that no one ever picked up the obvious, massive Prince influence of the song. When we re-recorded it for Chocolate and Cheese we filled up 24 tracks with parts. We never played it live, it had never even occurred to us until Phish started playing it out. Now it’s one of my favorite songs to perform live, as the whole band is playing the entire time. Usually it’s our finale of finales, the last song of the last encore. Phish, by covering it, made it one of our popular and most crowd pleasing tunes. For that we owe Trey forever because it opened up so many people’s ears to the music of Ween and introduced us to a whole new audience within the jam band scene, which never would have happened otherwise.”

The entire article is worth reading in full, if you have the time:


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