Part of the nature of Phish, with the band’s seemingly countless performances and nightly improvisation over the course of 40 years, is to compare and contrast; to measure this set vs. that one, this version of a song vs. that version, and so on. When it comes to jams, the easiest way to compare one to the other is by length. That’s why one hears fans talk about this 36-minute “Tweezer” or that 30-minute “Lawn Boy”.

Of course, the length of a jam doesn’t necessarily say anything about how good it is (one of our favorite jams of the Baker’s Dozen clocked in at just under 7 minutes in length), and extra length can often mean that there’s a lot of not-so-exciting time spent finding an idea to work off of. But a lengthy jam usually does, at the very least, indicate that the band is ready and willing to explore—and that intrepid approach is what most fans will tell you they keep coming back for.

While we know that length does not always equate to quality, we also know that it’s fun to be able to say you caught a “big one”. With that said, today is a milestone day for all the Phish “size queens” out there: On this day in ’97, the band took “Runaway Jim” on a nearly hour-long ride at the Worcester Centrum Centre. Throughout its 59-ish winding minutes, the improv sprouted traces of “Beauty of My Dreams”, “Harry Hood”, and “Super Bad” (James Brown), as well as a full-blown “Weekapaug Groove” jam.

The 11/29/97 “Runaway Jim” continues to be one of the longest versions of any song the band’s played to date (exceeded only by “special” jams like the late-night disco set at The Great Went, the “Tower Jam” at IT, Ball Square Jam at Super Ball IX, or the “Drive-In Jam” at Magnaball).

Watch the entire marathon jam performance of “Runaway Jim” from Worcester 1997 below.

Phish – “Runaway Jim” – 11/29/1997

[Video: longjams4three]

Setlist [via]: Phish | Worcester Centrum Centre | Worcester, MA | 11/29/1997

Set One: The Wedge, Foam , Simple -> The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, The Sloth, Ginseng Sullivan, Saw It Again, Horn, Water in the Sky, David Bowie

Set Two: Runaway Jim [1] > Strange Design > Harry Hood > Prince Caspian, Suzy Greenberg

Encore: Buffalo Bill, Moby Dick[2] > Fire

[1] Almost an hour long.
[2] Trey imitated Robert Plant’s intro to Moby Dick from the album The Song Remains the Same.
This Runaway Jim is one of the longest versions of any song ever played by Phish. It ran slightly under an hour and included Beauty of My Dreams, Harry Hood, and Super Bad teases and a strong Weekapaug jam where the entire melody of Weekapaug was played. Buffalo Bill was announced as Fish’s favorite song. Moby Dick was performed for the first time since February 19, 1993 (435 shows) and featured Trey imitating Robert Plant’s intro to Moby Dick from the album The Song Remains the Same.

[Originally published 11/29/21]