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Limb By Limb

Limb By Limb has not been seen in 5 Phish shows.
It was last played: 2017-09-02.
It was played at 7.88% of live shows.
It has been performed live 140 time(s).

Music/Lyrics: Anastasio/Marshall/Herman

Vocals: Trey (lead), All (backing)

Debut: 1997-06-13

Historian: Chris Bertolet (bertoletdown)

"During the Billy Breathes session,” says Page in The Phish Book, “we recorded something called ‘Taken Far Away,’ which consisted of us repeating that phrase along with the 'trampled by lambs & pecked by the dove’ line. Once or twice during soundchecks we played another song called ‘Chinese Wall,’ which included the lines ‘Drop me off the Chinese Wall / Peel my fingers off the rim,’ sung to a completely different two-chord progression. So we’d actually been messing with pieces of ‘Limb By Limb’ for years until they all returned as a complete song that was so much better than those earlier things that I totally forgot about until just now.”



Watch Limb By Limb on YouTube "Limb By Limb" – 6/22/97, Koblenz, Germany



Though the Dublin gig on 6/13/97 was the official debut of what we now know as “Limb By Limb,” a coarse version of the tune was road-tested at Brad Sands’ party on 6/6/97. Along with “Ghost,” it instantly became a favorite among the Anastasio/Marshall collaborations debuted on that summer tour through Europe, and has been a regular in setlists since.



“Limb By Limb,” like “Guyute” and “Taste,” is an example of Phish’s affinity for the 6/8 time signature. The lyrics are vintage Marshall, chock full of vivid imagery that suggests a relationship gone cold. The jam segment mirrors the images in the lyrics, shattering, splintering, and then reforming. As in “Taste,” Trey and Page sometimes weave scales and modes into the fabric of this jam that lend an Indian or Arabic tone to the proceedings, and some have likened “Limb By Limb” to the Grateful Dead’s “Crazy Fingers” in that regard (see the 6/22/00 Antioch, TN version for a prime example).



Watch Limb By Limb on YouTube "Limb By Limb" – 7/3/14, Saratoga Springs, NY. Video by LazyLightning55a.



Other outstanding “Limbs” abound, including a few extended takes like 8/19/97 Great Went (the band simply does not want to stop), 11/2/98 West Valley City, UT (delicate and remarkably patient), 6/16/00 Osaka, Japan (the second longest version ever played – and in this case quantity correlates to quality), and 8/28/12 St. Louis, MO (veers into a scorching blues jam in 4/4 time before returning to form). But by no means does “Limb By Limb” need to linger in order to excel. Equally incendiary but more compact examples of the song’s power include 8/3/97 George, WA (heartfelt catharsis), 11/28/97 Worcester, MA (funhouse ride), and 12/29/03 Miami, FL (relentless pursuit of peak).


Albums: The Story of the Ghost, Live Phish 17, IT, Star Lake 98, Amsterdam

Lyrics:

(Anastasio/Marshall/Herman)
© Who Is She? Music, BMI

The shoulder that I leaned on was carved out of stone
But when I’m done freezing I want to be alone

Never want my hand cut off
Never want a hacking cough
Never need a cliffside push
Never turn my brain to mush

Always give me what I lack
Always take the best parts back
Always recognize your fate
Always just a moment late

Left is where I always turn
Left is how I’m forced to learn
Left the route my walking takes
Left alone with my mistakes

Up against a person who
Up ’til now I never knew
Up from hell the answer blew
Up and down it’s up to you

Drop me off the chinese wall
and peel my fingers off the rim
I come unglued while in mid-air
and land to reform
limb by limb

And I am taken far away…

Lingering slowly and melting away
Tossed with the salad and baled with the hay
Pooling like water that drips from above
Trampled by lambs and pecked by the dove

Silence is suddenly smothering me
Nothing I touch and nothing I see
Possesses a pulse or is fit to be seen
If I am a drone then where is my queen?

Drop me off the chinese wall
and peel my fingers off the rim
I come unglued while in mid-air
and land to reform
limb by limb

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