Just the Jams

If you’re like me, you’ve listened to Phish for uncountable hours during your lifetime. I’ve listened to them for so many hours over the years, I had a desire to increase my “listening efficiency.”  Hence, the “compilations” I have created for years and have been putting out this week; I no longer need the filler songs.  Taking this even further, there came a point, while still living in the analog era, when I knew how long to fast-forward each song before the jam dropped, cutting out the non-essentials.  While I always love the continuity of listening to entire shows, especially second sets- I also love just listening to the shit.  I reached a place where I did not always need to hear the perfectly composed sections of YEM for the eight millionth time, or repetitive rhymes about coconuts and chloroforms and Uncle Ebeneezer. While adoring these composed sections, and still loving them in a live setting, I found that they took up half of my listening on a short drive or a quick workout, and since I knew those parts in my sleep, I often wanted to get to the heart of things. No time wasted; all jams all the time.

I know some purists will not agree with such habits, and always want to hear a version of a song in its entirety, but they way I see it- life is short, why spend time listening to the intros and composed sections of songs that are indelibly burned into my brain?  Yet, there is a time and a place for everything.  Anyhow, all that stopping and starting of analogs got a bit tiresome after a while, and with the advent of new technology, a few years ago I had an idea. Why not use my CD turntables to spin Phish mixes? Like a DJ set, they would be continuous, seamless, and put together within a conceptual framework. Sure, the beats wouldn’t match between songs, but they would have a flow; a natural beginning and ending point.   You would never hear a word, and often not discern any song; all jam all the time. No need to for frivolous formalities, just get right to the heart of why we all love Phish so much.  No frills.

There I stood with hundreds and hundreds of CDs and no particular idea of where I was gonna’ go with this; so I just started- recording live to my DAT machine- without an ability to overdub or fix mistakes. I made it through my first 80-minute excursion, and while not every transition was perfect, when I listened back to the creation, I liked the flow of it. I began playing it for others- they also liked it. I emailed it to some friends- they loved it! I had discovered a new hobby- making Phish DJ mixes. (I even DJ’d Phish dance parties using the same technique of sticking with solely masterful improvisation, and lo and behold- people loved it!) Using the same turntables formerly used to play electronic parties, I would create a magical Phish jam laboratory!

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