Music: Neil Young
Original Artist: Neil Young
Original Album: Arc (1991)
Historian: Craig DeLucia
There was great anticipation leading up to Phish’s 1998 Farm Aid appearance on 10/3/98.Neil Young was set to perform as well, and the band was scheduled to play his Bridge School Benefit two weeks later. Fans hoped for some sort of collaboration and were certainly not disappointed, as a national television audience saw Phish and Neil team up on, among other songs, a powerful “Runaway Jim” -> “Down By the River” combo that left the crowd speechless.
A feedback-based free-form jam connected the two songs, and some in the Phish community who are also Neil fans took to labeling the jam “Arc.” Originally released as a companion to the Weld album and subsequently released separately on Reprise, Arc (the album) contained one track: “Arc” the song.
And even then, “Arc” is not really a song but rather a free form experiment that some revered and some saw as pure noise. It combines guitar squeals, feedback, drum breaks, soundchecks, and other seemingly random material into one thirty-five minute experience. The source material came from Neil's 1991 “Smell the Horse” tour, which also produced the live tracks for Weld. Most of the material seems to come from the songs “Like a Hurricane,” “Welfare Mothers,” and “Tonight’s the Night.”
To say that Phish and Neil played “Arc” would be like saying that Phish jammed “And Furthermore” from Surrender to the Air; you can’t really say that an artist jammed something too free form to define. Still, labeling the jam “Arc” made it to the Internet and seemed to survive in many setlists, so the title appears to have stuck.
Phish w/Neil Young, "Runaway Jim" -> "Arc" – 10/3/98, Tinley Park, IL