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Harpua is a Phish song, written by Trey Anastasio and Jon Fishman. It's one of the 50 or so Phish songs that has never appeared on a studio album, nor is it likely to. However, you can hear live versions on the following CDs:

Harpua was never a common song in setlists, but by the time the band was playing arenas it was down to one or two appearances a year. This only made phans crave it more, as it unquestionably promised a very special show. (It is believed the band quit playing it not because they stopped having fun with it, but because they wanted the audience to focus on how they were playing, not what, and to cut it out with all this old-school-er-than-thou nonsense.)

When "Harpua" was (according to all available information) debuted on 8/9/87, the A and B sections were bridged by an instrumental piece called Bundle of Joy. By 1989, Trey had begun telling a story in the middle while the rest of the band played dramatic accompaniment.

The story concerned the interaction of the two characters from the A section, the nameless old man and his malevolent bulldog Harpua, and the two characters from the B section, the innocent boy Jimmy and his lovable cat Poster Nutbag. Inevitably, Poster would fight Harpua to the death, and lose. (Actually, once, on 2/12/93, Poster did triumph, but he was so surprised he immediately died of a heart attack.)

The reason phans craved this song is that, starting in 1992, Trey would alter the story to make it unique to each performance and even sillier than usual. The band would also usually slip a cover in there, usually one they had never played before, such as Smells Like Teen Spirit or Jimmy Olsen's Blues. This is a rundown of the last 12 Harpuas, with the elements that make them special.

Thanks to Yancy Davis and the rest of the Mockingbird Foundation.

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