Tuesday, August 4, 2015

My Favorite Jam

I wrote this piece for the Surrender to the Flow project, My Favorite Jam Ever. If you enjoy this, you should check out the entire book here for a steal of a price at $5.55!

You Enjoy Myself - 6/11/94
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Morrison, Colorado

The important thing to remember is that favorite does not always equal best.
When one has a favorite version of a song, or a movie, or book it's the indication that
whatever it is resonates with you in a method that sticks with you. It gets into your bones. If you have a favorite version of a Phish jam it means that you know and can sing along with Trey's guitar. You know when Mike is going to hit his bombs. You can anticipate every Fishman fill, and every Page solo. I have a multitude of jams that make me feel that level of appreciation and that are intrinsically linked to my fandom, but the one that stands above all others is the June 11, 1994 You Enjoy Myself.

When I was a fledgling fan, I found a version of this jam on momadance.com and I believe it was the first version of YEM that I heard. There was no spreadsheet and I
didn't know what B&P meant. Phishtracks didn't exist at that time. So I downloaded
what I could and listened to everything I could. Immediately, I was taken with this
version of YEM, which I knew at the time was the "big" Phish song. Mike was coming
through so strong in the whole version and it was played with such focus and ferocity
that required full attention when listening to it. Every portion of the song is played the
way that I want it to be played. There are no major flubs. The sound of Trey's giggle
during Nirvana always brings a smile to my face. Trey's solo is one of the finest four to
five minutes of Phish that exist. The way it plays with dynamics and crescendos and
peaks and builds and peaks again and grows and expands is something that I honestly believe only Phish, a quartet in full control of their facilities and at the top of their game, can do. There's not much finer out there in music.

I don't really want to get into a note by note or second by second recap of the song itself. I'd rather you all find your joy in this masterful version. I think that we all as Phish fans are a little more attuned to the joys and elation of music: of how music can affect our moods and our psyches, and how music can elevate us to a higher plane and
hold us all in an emotional fugue. I mentioned that I found this version of YEM when I was the proverbial "newbie". This would have been back in 2000, so I've had this as my favorite jam for about fifteen years now. This song has been with me through my graduation from high school and my going off to college. It was played (multiple times!) on the twenty-nine hour drive down to Austin from upstate NY. It's been with me for new relationships and break-ups, and through personal tragedies and personal accomplishments. It's been my go-to for introducing new fans to Phish's music. It wasthere for me when I got married in 2013. I listened to the song when I was driving out the venue by myself for my wedding - it was what I wanted to hear; it was what I needed to hear. It's been with me in bad times and in good times. I have it on my phone so that it's always with me when I want to listen to it. It was on my marathon playlist, synched with the Austin Marathon hills so that I had the jam when I needed it to push me onwards. It's always been in my pocket.

Occasionally, I have random portions of this specific jam in my head and my step 
seems to develop a little bit more spring in it. The sun seems to shine a bit brighter and the sky seems to be a bit bluer. Everything becomes clearer and I can see the direction 
that I need to take. I don't know what more I could ask for from a song. I've been grateful to have it in my life.