Vocals: Trey (lead), Page, Fish (backing)
Original Artist: Trey Anastasio
Historian: Erik Swain; Mockingbird Staff
Last Update: 2012-12-02
"Gotta Jibboo" was one of the touchstones of Phish’s move to a looser, more groove-oriented sound in 1999 and 2000. On the surface, it shares some characteristics of old-school Phish: lengthy instrumental passages punctuated by brief nonsensical lyrics. It’s quite possible that the nonsense word “Jibboo” comes from Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Things You Can Think!, in which a bird-like creature in a dark alley accompanies the text “And what would you do if you met a Jibboo?” Or it could be a more adult reference, given the exhortation “gotta jibboo and keep on drinkin’ too.”
Unlike many of the old war-horses, "Jibboo's" instrumental passages are not composed, but rather heavily improvised; Mike and Fishman anchor the song with a steady driving rhythm, while Trey and Page create a wide variety of soundscapes, often making liberal use of digital delay loops and synthesizer effects. To some fans, this is mesmerizing; to others, boring.
Like many songs that made their way into the Phish rotation in 1999, “Jibboo” was introduced to the public on Trey’s solo tour from that spring. It was one of several songs Trey developed with drummer Russ Lawton and bassist Tony Markellis as part of an effort to develop a more groove-based style of jamming. The results, first unveiled at the debut performance of Trey’s solo band on 2/15/99, were well-received, leading to calls for “Jibboo” to be added to Phish sets. The band obliged at the second show of the fall 1999 tour, 9/10/99 at The Gorge. “Jibboo” became a fixture in the setlist and was prominent in the rotation up until the hiatus, with many appearances in the crucial slot of second-set opener.
It was hardly a shocker that the song showed up on Farmhouse. That performance is one of the album's strongest, colored by horns, delay loops and a “Lion Sleeps Tonight” tease that also appears in many live versions.
"Gotta Jibboo" – Phish, 5/23/00, New York, NY (Part 1)
"Gotta Jibboo" – Phish, 5/23/00, New York, NY (Part 2)
To hear some of the things the band likes to do with “Jibboo,” check out 9/29/99, 12/10/99, 12/30/99, 5/21/00, 7/10/00 (which segues into “Jibboo’s” groove kin “Sand”), and 9/25/00. One version Trey would rather not have you hear is 12/13/99 Providence, which he has publicly criticized. There the band never gets in sync and the groove is rushed. Chalk it up to the growing pains of learning a new style. On the other end of the spectrum, those who have an interest in the song must check out the one live performance that to date has towered above the rest: the nearly 30-minute extravaganza on 7/4/00 in Camden, NJ. Its first fifteen minutes presented the standard grooving and looping, but then the band, possibly inspired by a massive glowring war on the lawn, took the jam into serious "Type-II" territory.
In the first year after the hiatus, less structured songs from the Farmhouse era such as “Jibboo” apparently fell out of favor. When the band did want to try a free-form jam at a 2003 show, it was more likely to use a newer vehicles such as “46 Days” or “Seven Below.” But given the success of some of those musical journeys, we cannot assume that epic versions of “Jibboo” are relegated to the past. For excellent "Phish 2.0" versions check out 7/29/03 (the amazing Star Lake show that you must have), 12/28/03 (relying more on rocking dissonance than the usual groove-based jamming) and 8/14/04 (Coventry, but be not afraid, this is actually quite excellent).
"Gotta Jibboo" – TAB, 10/16/08, New York, NY
Returning from the break-up in 2009, "Jibboo" was once again a regular in the Phish setlist, but they saved the best and only particularly notable version of the year for last. On 12/29/09 "Jibboo" served as the bread of a tasty "Wilson" sandwich that segued into an unusually strong "Heavy Things," anchoring a delicious second set in Miami. Then on 6/20/10 at SPAC, Tony Markelis joined the band to lay down the bass line on the song he co-wrote, while Mike assumed duties on a second guitar.
"Gotta Jibboo" – Phish, 7/4/10, Atlanta, GA
“Jibboo” remains a fixture with Trey’s solo projects, where it originated, and the song was featured prominently on 5/27/03 at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom with a guest appearance by guitarist Warren Haynes, and on 10/21/08 in Providence with Scott Murawski, Oteil Burbridge and Bill Kreutzmann sitting in.
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Love it, one of the best.