"Cavern" as written by Harry Armstrong and Husch Gerard Richard....
Your time is near, the mission's clear
It's later than we think
Before you slip into the night
You'll want something to drink
Steal away before the dawn, and
Bring us back good news
But if you've tread in primal soup
Please wipe it from your shoes

Just then a porthole pirate
Scourged the evening with his cry
And sanctuary bugs deprived
The monkey of its thigh
A dust arose and clogged my nose
Before I could blink twice
Despite the stuff that bubbled up
I gave some last advice:

The flesh from Satan's dogs
Will make the rudiments of gruel

Deduct the carrots from your pay
You worthless swampy fool

Exploding then through fields and fen
And swimming in the mire
The septic maiden's gargoyle tooth
Demented me with fire
I drifted where the current chose
Afloat upon my back
And if perchance a newt slimed by
I'd stuff it in my sack

Soon I felt a bubble form, Somewhere below my skin
But with handy spine of hedgehog
I removed the force within
Suzie then removed her mask
And caused a mighty stir
The angry mob responded
Taking turns at grabbing her

The foggy cavern's musty grime
Appeared within my palm
I snatched Rick's fork to scrape it off
With deadly icy calm

The brothel wife then grabbed a knife
And slashed me on the tongue
I turned the blade back on the bitch
And dropped her in the dung]

The crowd meanwhile had taken Sue
And used her like a rag
To mop the slime from where the slug
Had slithered with the bag

In summing up, the moral seems
A little bit obscure...

Give the director a serpent deflector
A mudrat detector, a ribbon reflector
A cushion convector, a picture of nectar
A virile dissector,a hormone collector

Whatever you do take care of your shoes


Lyrics submitted by oofus

"Cavern" as written by Husch Gerard Richard Harry Armstrong

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., WHO IS SHE MUSIC INC.

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Cavern song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentThe rape-y elements of this song creep me out.
    "Suzie then removed her mask and caused a mighty stir

    The angry mob responded taking turns at grabbing her

    ...

    The crowd meanwhile had taken Sue and used her like a rag

    To mop the slime from where the slug had slithered with the bag"
    shaaaynaon February 07, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commentdont get me wrong, i love this song and i love phish. but it seems pretty clear that this song is made up of random nonsequiturs, and as whole its completely nonsensical. but isn't that the point? that's part of why I love phish. they (usually) don't take the lyrical part of music seriously at all. they're just dicking around and having fun. maybe bits and pieces of the song have meaning, but if you find coherent meaning in the song as a whole, you're overanalyzing.
    dsimonon December 02, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentEverything in this song refers to sex or to condoms.

    Example: a serpent deflector is a condom. The "cavern" itself probably refers to the vagina. The "grime" comes off on the narrator's hand.

    I read somewhere that these lyrics are the result of a series of phone conversations between Tom Marshall, the lyricist, and Trey.
    bjengles3on March 17, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNo, this is another song to add onto Gamehenge's saga. I heard it's abbout a spy into Wilson's governmen:
    Your time is near, the mission's clear, it's later than we think

    Before you slip into the night, you'll want something to drink

    Steal away before the dawn, and bring us back good news

    But if you've tread in primal soup, please wipe it from your shoes

    Either way, I love the song
    cc1tcc1ton April 08, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSuch a funky first note on bass.
    SlothsAreFunnyon January 25, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSuch a funky first note on bass.
    SlothsAreFunnyon January 25, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"A dust arose and clogged my nose before I could blink twice" - coke?
    shaaaynaon February 26, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwouldn't you think suzie was suspected of bieng a witch?

    "Suzie then removed her mask
    And caused a mighty stir
    The angry mob responded
    Taking turns at grabbing her"
    bullockcarton August 19, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI wanted to paste my comment on "Guelah Papyrus" here as I think it relates. I especially love how a "picture of Nectar" (proprietor of a music venue- "Nectar's") is enough to act as a prophylactic!

    Cavern is indeed a vagina image, and there is unsettling sexual imagery in the song as others have commented, both of rape and of disease.

    Quote from my GP entry:

    I think this song [Guelah Papyrus} is about expecting to catch a cheating girlfriend in the act, with undertones of fears of venereal disease as a running theme? Why? Well, when you listen to the other lyrics on the album, STD's are something of a running theme-- it's a public health announcement to jam band types everywhere. "Whatever you do, take care of your shoe" (Cavern) lest you get a "Crab" in your "Shoemouth" (Manteca)

    "In summing up, the moral seems
    A little bit obscure...

    Give the director a serpent deflector
    A mudrat detector, a ribbon reflector
    A cushion convector, a pitcher of nectar *
    A viral dissector,a hormone collector"

    (Cavern) - this entire list is a collection of synonyms for condoms. With the exception of a "picture of Nectar." Nectar's was a club that Phish played in and while I haven't seen the proprietor myself, it would presumably be enough of a turn off to prevent any activity that might result in catching anything!!! And I think bacteria can come in the shape of little serpents, ribbons, rods, or tiny spheres. Yuck.

    This album came out during the AIDS epidemic when I was a teenager-- I think the message was pretty clear at the time. The remainder of "Cavern's" lyrics contain a lot of disease imagery, and other earlier tunes like Golgi Apparatus suggest that microbiology tends to come up in Phish lyrics.

    So the singer imagines himself paralyzed by a spider, a "fly on the wall" to witness the tryst of his lover, and then imagines walking in, causing frowns all around-- and noticing that his photo frame on the nightstand has been turned flat on the table.
    joejefferyCTon December 27, 2012   Link

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