The Ghosts of Summer

Red Rocks (J.Kravitz)

Planet Red Rocks (J.Kravitz)

Ever since its debut in Dublin in June of ’97, “Ghost” has been a preeminent jam vehicle for the Phish.  Boasting little composition and lots of open-ended groove, it was a song crafted for jamming.  At a time when Phish was turning their focus to dance music, they wrote this seminal piece to guide their way.  Evolving with the band from the raw funk of Summer ’97, to the disco-funk of Fall ’97;  and then from the ambient planes of ’98 to the millennial soundscapes of ’99, “Ghost” has followed the band’s improvisational path.  Taking on multiple forms, latter-day “Ghosts” traditionally diverged at one central fork- rock or funk.  From each place, the jams could go anywhere and transform to greatness, but the essence of “Ghost” was in the groove.

Over the course of the summer- both in June and in August- “Ghost” was one of the band’s standout jams.  With five total versions, four were spectacular, leaving everyone salivating for those opening funk chords.  As we bring this show indoors, here’s to more frequent Phishy apparitions, but for now these were the Ghosts of Summer.


Jones Beach 6.4 I

6.4 (W.Rogell)

Jones Beach 6.4 (W.Rogell)

This first set version in Jones Beach’s least engaging show wound up buried in the rubble of Asheville’s monster a week later- but it never shouldn’t have been forgotten.  With a sparse opening segment, Gordon assumed the lead, taking the band galloping out of the gates.  Trey, playing short notes, added a melodic string to the piece as it evolved to an earnest groove.  Page added sounds and washes rather than leads, and the band locked in.  Smoothly switching gears into a hypnotic section of dreamy ambiance, Trey played gorgeous lines over a ever-changing beat.  This is really an overlooked jam coming so early in the summer, but don’t sleep on the Jones Beach “Ghost.”



Asheville 6.9 II

Asheville 6.9 (Lanser)

Asheville 6.9 (Lanser)

The laid back vibe of this show got turned upside down as the organic Asheville day morphed into this second set “Ghost.”  Following the standout Jones Beach version, the heavy drop into the song was colored with anticipation.  The intimate crowd drew silent, sensing something strange was afoot at the Circle K.  Beginning with a non-conventional rhythm, Fish orchestrated the course of this piece from the get go, taking it in a different direction than the usual groove-fest.  His abstract beats coaxed eclectic offerings from his bandmates and provided the anchor of the jam.  After catching a groove, the band turned to a revelatory plane, fusing heart-tugging melodies with crafty rhythms, they continually peaked the jam with an entire section of improv.  The whole band was on point as Trey unleashed some of his most sublime playing of June, pouring emotion into his melodies.  As the band descended from the mountain, they slid into into a perfect respite of “Fast Enough For You.”



Alpine Valley 6.20 II

6.20 (D.Vann)

Alpine 6.20 (D.Vann)

This was the only “Ghost” of summer that you won’t hear again and again on compilations.  A rather pedestrian version, the band collectively meandered around the song’s basic structures but never really got anywhere.  At first I thought it was an odd an interesting version, and after a few listens I realized its just not that creative.  Coming in an underwhelming second set, this “Ghost” kind of fit the show’s vibe.



Red Rocks 7.30 II

Red Rocks 7.30 (W.Rogell)

Red Rocks 7.30 (W.Rogell)

This “Ghost” was our introduction to the new and improved Phish 3.0.  Delivered powerfully in the middle of Red Rock’s first show, the jam boasted a far more relaxed and exploratory direction than anything we heard in June.  Playing off the wide-open natural surroundings, the band settled into a wide-open rhythmic canvas, patiently building the jam, while not forcing it anywhere.  Mike and Trey’s interplay throughout was awesome, but it would be Page who initiated the melodic theme that grew into the peak of the jam.  Bringing smiles to the faces of everyone, this was the musical arrival we had been waiting for.  From here on out, it was on- we had our band back.



Hartford 8.14 II

Hartford 8.14 (T.Salido)

Hartford 8.14 (T.Salido)

The final “Ghost” of summer was the jumping off point for some of the Phishiest moments of tour.  Coming as a surprise, deep into the second set, this long overdue version would not disappoint.  Taking the road less traveled into a searing rock-based jam, the band cranked out a short but sweet rager.  Totally divergent from its Red Rocks predecessor, this version carried a sense or urgency, as the band sunk their teeth into the full-on palette.  This version saw Trey firing high-powered leads as the band built the climactic jam behind him.  Hitting a hard rhythm pattern at the top of the piece, Trey voraciously led the band into the second-ever “Psycho Killer,” and the rest is history.


Winged music note=====

Jams of the Day:

“Discern” 8.2.03, IT II


“Discern” 7.27.03, Raleigh I


Stemming from reader discussion, here are two examples of the rarely-played post-hiatus piece, “Discern.”  The first, from IT, is an ominous spectacle directly preceding the colossal “Waves” of the same vein.  The second is from days earlier in Raleigh, NC, providing another example of the abstract psychedelia that defined the song.



11.10.1995 Fox Theatre, Atlanta, GA < Torrent

11.10.1995 Fox Theatre, Atlanta, GA < Megaupload

The Fox - Atlanta, GA

The Fox - Atlanta, GA

The middle night of a fantastic run, this is probably the most straightforward of the three shows.  The second set is anchored by the creative combo of “YEM > Crossroads > YEM.”  Enjoy!

I: Bouncing Around the Room, Runaway Jim, Fog That Surrounds, The Old Home Place, It’s Ice, Dog Faced Boy, Maze, Guyute, Cavern

II: Free, Scent of a Mule, You Enjoy Myself > Crossroads > You Enjoy Myself, Strange Design, Sparkle, AC/DC Bag, Sweet Adeline

E: Harry Hood

Source: (FOB) Schoeps mk4 > kc5 > cmc6 > Sonosax SX-M2 > Teac DA-P20 (@ 48kHz) (Taper – Ryan Varnum)

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275 Responses to “The Ghosts of Summer”

  1. Mr. Completely Says:

    …but this does remind me I haven’t gone to look for matrixes of Asheville and Knoxville, which I’d definitely like to have. the Camden one is a noticeable upgrade, with fairly fat Mike

  2. joe Says:

    “requests for weekend nuggets download/s”

    untitled (royalty) jams possibly. or mislabled jams that precede actual songs. is my request.

  3. Mr.Miner Says:

    they multi track everything

  4. MOONSHAKE Says:

    it boggles the mind why this hasn’t been done yet. I would pay for these shows, and so would others who were at these shows. it doesn’t make any sense for them not to do this. Mr. C, I looked but couldn’t find any matrices of Asheville, if you happen to find any, please let me know.

  5. Stupendous Says:

    “requests for weekend nuggets download/s”

    ….Yeah segments that are truly worthy of a “>Jam” or “Jam>” 🙂

  6. joe Says:

    for the record, I was joking about my suggestion (but it would make for a sweet mix if you could get the > right)

  7. butter Says:

    GD would often start BIODTL with a cordinating # of beats to the day of the month it was.

  8. butter Says:

    Miner 11-17-94 would be tight

  9. butter Says:

    Helter Skelter opener, with a Col Forbins>vib of life>Mockingbird

  10. Stupendous Says:


  11. halcyon Says:

    “requests for weekend nuggets downloads”

    In anticipation for fall, football season, festival 8, and fall/winter tour

    11-02-94 Bangor Auditorium, Bangor, ME

    1: Suzy Greenberg, Foam, If I Could, Maze, Guyute, Stash, Scent of a Mule, While My Guitar Gently Weeps

    2: Halley’s Comet-> Tweezer, The Mango Song, Axilla [Part II], Possum, Lizards, Sample in a Jar

    E: The Old Home Place*, Foreplay*-> Long Time*, Tweezer Reprise


    11-03-94 The Mullins Center, University of Mass, Amherst, MA

    1: Fee, The Divided Sky, Wilson-> Peaches en Regalia, Glide, Split Open and Melt, Dog Faced Boy, Sparkle, Down With Disease

    2: Also Sprach Zarathustra-> Simple-> Poor Heart-> Julius, You Enjoy Myself-> Big Black Furry Creature From Mars, Harry Hood, Cavern

    E: My Sweet One*, Nellie Cane*, Amazing Grace, Highway to Hell


  12. butter Says:

    Thursday, November 17, 1994
    Hara Arena, Dayton, OH

    Set I: Helter Skelter, Scent of a Mule, Maze, Bouncing Around the Room, Wilson, Divided Sky, Dog Faced Boy, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > The Vibration of Life > The Famous Mockingbird, Down with Disease

    Set II: Also Sprach Zarathustra > David Bowie, Sleeping Monkey > Sparkle, You Enjoy Myself -> HYHU Vocal Jam -> Love You > HYHU, Slave to the Traffic Light, Golgi Apparatus
    Encore: I’m Blue I’m Lonesome, Nellie Kane, My Long Journey Home, Fixin’ To Die

    Show Notes: The Vibration of Life featured a Wipeout tease. I’m Blue I’m Lonesome through Long Journey were performed acoustic; My Long Journey Home featured the Reverend Jeff Mosier on spoons. The encore included the first performance of Fixin’ to Die, which featured Mosier on banjo and lead vocals. Listen for fun versions of Bowie and YEM, including Frankenstein teases in the latter.

  13. joe Says:

    I was attending Umass at the time of the 94 show. They had already played the spring concert (free show) in 92 or so. They were one of the openers but still managed to play a fairly long set (or so it seemed at the time) We actually used to get pretty sick lineups for that one, don’t think they do it anymore. Not sure if that counts as my first show.
    Saw them a few times in between that and the Mullins Show. Can’t remember too much from the Mullins show, other than a nice tailgaiting afternoon and then a sick nitrous party after the show. (which may have erased the memories of the music) Never listened to it after, or really even checked the setlist. Thought SPAC 09 was the first time I’ve seen Highway to Hell in person. Guess not.

  14. butter Says:

    i’d love to hear “Tela” and “Big Black Fury Creature From Mars” , down at Indio. I can’t believe the list of bust outs from this last tour. What are some you’d like to hear?

  15. halcyon Says:

    I would love to hear Glide.

  16. joe Says:

    It’s pretty insane just how big the catalog is at this point. They will have played over 200 different songs in 09 by the time the year is out. I can’t even remember how to play and sing the 10-15 songs that I’ve been working on for 15 years.

  17. halcyon Says:

    Butter….I remember trying to make it to that Dayton show. Ultimately college term papers, and a lack of money preempted that decision. I did make the 10/31, 11/3, and 11/4 that week. What a week that was!

  18. BingosBrother Says:

    Have Mercy

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    BBFCFM is the only old school bustout that would really make my day. or a for-real DEG. Other than that I want them to play whatever

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    …whatever they’re into

  21. voopa Says:

    “Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t care.”

    LOL! That’s how I felt about the whole jam labeling discussion earlier!

  22. Mr. Completely Says:

    Mike + Leo “Twist” = good

  23. Lycanthropist Says:

    i wouldn’t mind hearing a spock’s brain actually.

  24. Lycanthropist Says:

    or pickin it for that matter

  25. JerryTimber Says:

    @ Marshall
    I still have my horribly mislabled copy of 12.31.93, that I funny enough bought in 95 at some record store in Huntington, WV, home of Marshall University… oooooo spooky… or not

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