Hear Phish's Dramatic Basketball Jam 'The Line' - Premiere

Band pays homage to college hoops player Darius Washington Jr. on new 'Fuego' track

Peter Yang
May 27, 2014 10:00 AM ET

Rock & roll is about busting boundaries and pushing the limits, but on Phish's new song "The Line" (off their June 24th album Fuego), guitarist Trey Anastasio is singing about a very different kind of line: the free-throw line. When the band debuted the track on Halloween, Anastasio explained the song was "Dedicated with much love to the incredible Darius Washington, Jr." because it's "about his experience when he missed those two free throws at the end of the Final Four Michigan State game. We love him, and we can relate." 

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College-basketball savvy Phish fans have pointed out Washington (who played for the University of Memphis) actually blew two of three free throws during a C-USA championship game against Louisville in 2005. But the track's lyrics — written in the first-person perspective of the young basketball star facing down his fate in front of millions — could apply to anyone grappling with a seemingly life-changing challenge: "You try to see your future from the line/And you’re clinging to the notion you’ll be fine." (For the record, Washington is indeed fine and playing in the Turkish league.)

Fuego, due next month via JEMP Records, is the band's 12th album and first since 2009's Joy. It was produced by rock legend Bob Ezrin (Peter GabrielPink Floyd,Lou Reed), and features more of the spirit of the band's live experience than ever before, according to drummer Jon Fishman. "For years, there's been a distinct difference between how we did things live and how we did them in the studio," he said in a statement. "But the way we go about things live, the way the musical ball is passed around, is now happening much more in the studio – not because we're trying to duplicate how we play on stage, just because this is how we operate as a band, period."

Fuego is available for pre-order here, and the band will be on the road again — performing residencies — this summer.

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