Reba is a song by Phish. It's the favorite tune of many a Phishhead, because of its sad gentle jam section. While Tube and You Enjoy Myself make you shake your booty, and David Bowie and Split Open and Melt fry your brain with heady variations on acid jazz, Reba is the one (along with Harry Hood) that makes you fight the urge to weep.
The album version of Reba appears as track 2 on 1990?s Lawn Boy. Comparing this version to a good live version is much like comparing the light you get from Alpha Centauri to a bright noonday sun. Sure, it's the next best thing, but it's not even close. You can find great ones on:
After the dadaist ode to the joy of cooking represented by the lyrics, there is a dense instrumental section. It's one of the most difficult pieces that Phish performs, which is saying a hell of a lot. Trey Anastasio has admitted in interviews that his process for composing it was to record a small section, then leave and come back only once he had completely forgotten what he'd written. He would then come up with the next short section based solely on the last note of the previous section.
This may seem like a pretty stupid and pointless way to write a piece of music. The first few times you hear Reba, this section probably seems rambling and ugly. But somewhere around the tenth listen, once enough of it is lodged in your skull, it becomes one long thrilling melody. The last part, in which Trey Anastasio and Page McConnell chase each other in a complex fugue, still makes my head spin.
Then, basically, the song drops into the aforementioned two-chord jam (after which comes an optional whistling section that then repeats the chorus). The idea for the jam is to travel from a mood of contemplative near-quiet to a peak of soaring intensity, while making up everything in between. Ideally, the laser-beam focus necessary for the previous section keeps the band members listening to each other intently, while the relief of playing something much "easier" lets spontaneous rhythms and tunes flow out like water.
There are three Phish shows that, almost immediately after they took place, were universally agreed upon to be the best show ever, untoppable. All three of these shows contained a Reba. To briefly sum up those versions: