The story of how a Rosh Hashana prayer became part of regular set-list of one of the most popular bands in the country is exactly the kind that I was talking about last month when I wrote about the 'Jewish fringe' bands The Jewish Legend, A Silver Mt. Zion, and The Silver Jews. The Phish bass player, Mike Gordon, is Jewish and willing to connect his and the band's public identity with Judaism. According to an article written by Jacob Horowitz for JVibe, Gordon grew up in Newton, Mass attending a Conservative synagouge and a Solomon Schechter day school. Later on, he introduces his Phish bandmates to Avinu Malkenu and other Jewish and Hebrew songs. And this introduction was not just because he was fond of the music. According to the JVibe article, Gordon has an "effortless spirituality" and a deep connection with Judaism.
"Music," he explains, "fills many of the holes that religion leaves open. The philosophical feeling behind religion, a religious upbringing, and even the notion of praying to God is very abstract. This transfers directly to my relationship with music. While you cannot necessarily touch music, you can feel it and it is something to believe in." "I've always compared my movements on stage to davening [praying]," he added. "To me, music has always served as that type of religious release."
Phish 1999-10-03TMWSIY Avenu Malkenu