Earlier today, Phish.net revealed a massive update to their song history for the popular Phish cover of Ween’s “Roses Are Free”. The band has been covering “Roses” since the mid-1990s, just a few years after the song was released on Ween’s infamous Chocolate and Cheese album in 1994.
In the new update, Ween’s own Dean Ween (aka Mickey Melchiondo) spoke extensively about the Phish-Ween connection and the band’s own influences for recording 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.”
It’s clear that the love between Ween and Phish is mutual, as this past summer, Phish frontman Trey Anastasio took a moment after performing the song to urge Gene and Dean Ween to reunite the band. So far, it seems that his plea has yet to work, but we’re still keeping our fingers crossed.