Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Head Code

Once again, Enthusiasts, we are in Mr. Completely’s debt: a comment he just left has inspired me and I hope that my inspiration shall move us all…

You’re a monster.



No conversation about tapes can be without a sidebar on Dead Shorthand. All sub-cultures have jargon, a shared and allusive pidgin that evolves memetically; it serves two purposes: first, any group of humans with a shared and specific intent has need for different language than the masses, as concepts that may not even exist outside the group are vitally important within; second, jargon serves as a shibboleth and identifier of group membership far better than any uniform ever could.

There was the common tongue of the lot, and certainly one backstage, but the one most Deadheads are familiar with is Dead Shorthand: the tape code. At first an impenetrable glop, like Polish had sex with a broken typewriter, the cypher quickly opened itself and one could get down to what’s important: nitpicking details and arguing about ephemera. Did the transition arrow look like “->” or did it look like “>”? Was it GDTR or GDTRFB? Playin or PITB? (The answers: no dash, GDTRFB, and Playin. My brain reads PITB as a Bronx cheer, and it makes the experience less pleasant than it could be. I do not need Dead songs giving me raspberries.)

But as I said, Dead Shorthand is at first a complete hash, and perhaps there are younger readers or those new to the Dead who may still have problems with the initialisms. (The Dead’s abbreviations are not acronyms, but initialisms. An acronym makes a new word out of the first letters of other words (NASA); an initialism just pronounces the first letters (IRS).)

In an effort to lend a hand to those joining this ship of fools, TotD now presents a Guide To Dead Shorthand:

BIODTL Beat it on Down the Line.

NFA Not Fade Away

KHPOA Keith has Passed Out Again.

S>T>S>LBC Smoke>Tune>Lackluster Beatles Cover.

SIOMWTMBA Stuck Inside of Memphis with the Memphis Blues Again.

AWSTAAITBWTSTST Are We Sure that an Abbreviation is the Best Way to Shorten this Song Title?

IHDFMTWATSM If Humans Descended from Monkeys, Then why are There Still Monkees?

D Deal. (Rarely used.)

MNFW My Nipples Feel Weird.

SJW Spanish Jam Warriors. (These are people who feel that the Mind Left Body Jam is offensive to those with Dissociative Disorder.)

GDTS Grateful Dead Ticket Sales

GDTSS Grateful Dead Time-Share Sales. (This was Rakow’s idea.)

JGB Fuckin’ Jerry Band.

JGWMLDOTGDOI Japanese Guy who Makes Lego Dioramas of the Grateful Dead on Instagram.

DMF>HJ This doesn’t mean anything; don’t worry about it; move on.

TRCRTWWC The Road Crew Refuses to Work Without Cocaine.

UJB Uncle John’s Band.

BJS Big John Studd.

TMGLTMKITGROA To Make Gentle Love to Michiko Kakutani is the Greatest Review of All.

MDTH Mickey Dosed the Horses.


  1. JSSAS,

    Jerry’s Slow Song After Space.

    Could be Morning Dew, Stella Blue, Black Peter or whatever.

  2. Spencer..

    Your family called, they miss you. Wife is jealous of photoshop, daughters would like you to photoshop fake ID’s.


    • I have been swimming/fishing/grillin with them all day……I sneek inside like I’m doing rails to photoshop……I need help.

  3. Mr.Completely is more than deserving…..hook him up ToTD.

  4. TISPMHIW [This Is Pretty Much How It Was]

    %-[tape break since I forgot to flip the tape because my roommate wouldn’t stop talking]

  5. Drink all day rock all night

    May 22, 2016 at 11:03 pm

    The one guy in each section freaking out during drums… I know I know, no explanation needed for most of you.

    • WATGDSGIMWWIATTGTHBDD? [Why Are Those Goddamn Spinners Getting In My Way When I Am Trying To Go The Bathroom During Drums?]

      If you don’t know, read the part of Jesse Jarnow’s book Heads about the Spinners, and then imagine my distress

  6. D was for Deal in the context of the treasured L > S > D set 1 closers in the early Brent era. One of my favorite setlist details.

  7. NoThoughtsOnDead

    May 23, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    Playin for sure.
    PITB is a Bronx cheer: Pain In The Butt. My wife and I were walking the dogs, and you can imagine what she said to bring that in focus.

  8. Also in one of my earliest forays into trolling I would shorten Memphis Blues a different way every time

    “Mobile with the Memphis”

    “Stuck Inside of Blues Again”

    “Inside Memphis Again”

    etc, etc

  9. +5 for memetically
    +3.625 for shibboleth

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