this is in no way a definitive list of spafford’s best songs, jams or shows, just a place for you to send spaffirgins when they ask for a recommendation on where to start so they don’t feel overwhelmed.
the list is made up of three shorter, radio-friendly songs, three originals with the extended jam treatment plus one badass phish cover for anyone who wants or needs a comparison, and four improvisational jams of varying length. all of these songs can be found on the band’s soundcloud page (there are obviously tons of other jams that could or even should be on here, but i wanted to keep it exclusive to their sc page for efficiency’s sake).
for the real go-getters in your life who want to hear these songs in the context of a set and show, i’ve included a few stellar must-hear complete shows at the bottom, all of which are on the archive.
post anything you think i missed in the comments section- i kept it just to these in the post because i’m into the whole brevity thing.
salamander song (6/29/13) – a joyous singalong chorus always closes out this song when it’s played live. fits anywhere in the setlist and always welcomed by the fans. closest thing to what i’d call their “harry hood.” this version is also the song’s debut.
diana (7/27/13) – really catchy song that i think is a true bustout at this point, performed only when a certain lady is in the building. i’m not much of a lyrical interpreter so i won’t say anything other than this is also a fan favorite and one that the band seems to really enjoy playing.
hollywood (2/9/15) – perhaps their best-written and overall beginner-friendly song. definitely a fan favorite. this is objectively an excellent song that any band would be proud to say is their own. this version is also the song’s debut.
extended orginals (plus wolfman’s)
wolfman’s brother (8/24/13) – for the extreme phish lover who absolutely needs a song-by-song comparison. this version was played at the wedding of two of spafford’s biggest, longtime fans evan and erin (also known as the wedding wolfman’s).
ain’t that wrong > on fire (1/17/14) – “on fire” is a cover but spafford really makes it their own, and this version out of a raging “ain’t that wrong” needed to be included here. stellar group power jamming.
backdoor funk (3/27/15) – sweet aunt jemima.
7/5/12 soundcheck – five minutes of bliss. the gateway drug of spafford jams and my most listened to song of theirs according to itunes.
11/15/14 practice jam – when they released this last year i was floored. so much patience displayed by everyone for the twenty or so minutes of this one. the band-only setting can be difficult in keeping people’s attention, but this jam nails it. fans of phish’s “headphones jam” feel free to start here.
cabin jam(s) one & two (12/7/15) – the real nitty gritty. eighty-plus minutes of ocean-deep sonic exploration, all improvised and played without an audience at a remote cabin during their six show colorado mini tour in december ’15. they streamed both of these jams live and the reactions on their mixlr page were basically variations on “holy shit this band is ridiculous” and other vaguely sexual metaphors (not just me this time).
8/9/14 – low spirit’s, albuquerque, nm – gonna be hard for any show to top this one for me on a personal level. really cool “midnight rider” sandwich to follow the raging “funkadelic” opener, monster jammed-out versions of taco stand and ltlo, a “people” that closed and then opened sets one and two respectively, a sick “land down under” and a few more i won’t mention because that would basically list the whole show.
10/30/15 – last exit, phoenix, az – palindrome first set with “postman” the obvious highlight and a second set with the first-ever jammed out “hollywood,” a march-through-mordor “electric taco stand,” a thieves/dis g0/thieves sandwich and “leave the light on” that kept going and going and going. bravo.
1/1/16 – prankster’s too, scottsdale, az – the opening segment of america > red’s jam > walls may be the best “suite” of music i’ve seen them play live. absolutely incredible. halfway through red’s jam they go into a dark, deep dive down the rabbit hole reminiscent of a 1995 “stash.” plus dave hebert guests on the last four songs of the first set, including three covers and a backdoor funk to die for. hell of a way to start the new year. there’s a great set two in there somewhere as well.