Thursday 03/22/2018 by OrangeSox


The Silver Anniversary of arguably the purest live performance of Trey's Gamehendge saga, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, offers us the ideal occasion to unveil this new project. And, we have to admit, the rigid deadline definitely helped expedite the process.

Legend has it that, much like the song cycle’s subsequent performance at what has come to be called the “GameHoist” show, the venue was under-sold. The crowd clearly gave the band its patient, undivided attention. Whatever prompted the band to finally immerse their live audience in the full story in Sacramento 25 years ago today, the tape of the show became a rite of passage for nearly every fan, thanks to the widely shared and very crispy SBD.

Born inside a .net forum thread, a group of regular contributors committed to what seemed to us a worthwhile endeavor to compile transcriptions and summaries of every narration available on audio recordings. The thread began shortly after the release of St. Louis '93, prompted by my listening to the powerful “Harpua” from the April date. As soon as the thread got legs, I knew I would have to put my money where my mouth is.

Fortunately, I am among the contingent of the fanbase that sincerely enjoys this component of Phish’s live performances. My first tape included a “Rhombus Narration” that it turns out was among the best of that particular narration, cementing my affection for Trey’s narrative excursions from the beginning. Furthermore, as soon as I began chipping away at transcriptions, I felt certain it was worthwhile work.

Thankfully, I was most definitely not alone. This project could never have come together without major contributions from some high quality .netters. Five of the first six replies in that thread were from people volunteering to help. That’s just the way the forum is. @Franklin, @DaleCooper, @illbuyyouaewe, and @paulj jumped all-in right off the bat. Reed (aka @DaleCooper) and Jeremy (aka @Franklin) produced nearly 60 transcriptions between them!

As the work continued, our team would come to include five more people: @kmd711, @raidcehlalred, @Capt_Tweezerpants, @mshow96, and @sevenpounds. Last, but certainly not least, this would never have worked without the creative vision and technical prowess of @ucpete, who built the powerful spreadsheet linking these transcriptions and became the primary motivator encouraging its completion. Our volunteered time enabled this idea to become a completed project.

This would be the perfect place to also extend our gratitude to Yance Davis, who compiled transcriptions for many of the greatest versions of “Harpua” to share on under the title “Harpua Files” Thankfully, @kipmat pointed us towards that work early-on, which is now contained in the review archive, saving the team many hours of work while confirming we weren’t so crazy as to be the first to ever attempt this undertaking. If you're out there or if anyone happens to know Yance, please let him know his work was surely not for naught and do share this project with him!

So, almost exactly 12 months after we began, we have compiled transcriptions for 173 versions, of songs featuring Phish's unique storytelling style, representing our best attempt to catalog every available performance, at least 20,000 words worth. The team cumulatively put in over 200 hours to complete this project.

While there remain a significant number of versions that we can’t currently transcribe because tapes do not circulate, there are fortunately very few currently unavailable versions from the years when the narrations were the most elaborate, and we hold out hope that we locate recordings of those one day, especially 1993-03-08.

That all of these narrations concern Gamehendge should come as no surprise, nor will the common tropes, but the variety of settings and plots will likely impress even the crustiest JadedVet™. Outside the five Gamehendge performances, the songs most represented are easy to name: “Fly Famous Mockingbird” and “Harpua.” The only other songs in double digits are “Icculus”and “Divided Sky” (aka “Rhombus Narration”). Nevertheless, the diversity of the content is pretty astounding. These songs represent early anchors to the band's live performances, and the expansive journeys have helped establish powerful impressions upon first-time listeners since the beginning.

While not every one holds up to repeated listening, many versions reveal new qualities with each review. In the transcriptions, we sought to reflect Trey's enthusiastic inflection and rambling style, while also presenting these narratives in a pleasant, readable format. We excluded at most every other "and," which Trey uses like punctuation, and we even retained quite a bit of his other filler words for effect. The transcriptions provide good scripts to follow while listening, but we hope they provide enjoyable reading on their own.

Indeed, we view this project as a significant addition to the encyclopedic collection of resources compiled here at We hope that it contributes to the continued erudite examination of the history of our favorite band by providing a resource to explore a vital and unique facet of the experience, while helping to promote the important charitable mission of the Mockingbird Foundation to expand access to music education across the United States.

We hope you enjoy the Narration Chart! If you haven’t already clicked on it hiding in one of the links above, just click this link right here. Like everything around, this remains a work in progress. The next phase of the project will likely see the content migrate from the spreadsheet into a permanent home within the website. Please stay tuned for updates about that process.

Of course, we encourage and appreciate your interest so please let us know if we’ve overlooked something, included a glaring mistake, or otherwise need guidance. You may email us anytime at [email protected].

We hope everyone enjoys this new resource because we have certainly enjoyed the process of putting it together. Thanks to everyone with and the Mockingbird Foundation for giving us this opportunity!

If you liked this blog post, one way you could "like" it is to make a donation to The Mockingbird Foundation, the sponsor of Support music education for children, and you just might change the world.


, comment by AbePhroman
AbePhroman Phantastic! The links to listen are great.
, comment by fhqwhgads
fhqwhgads Excellent contribution to phan-curated Phishtory! Documentation preserves.
, comment by off2camp
off2camp Totally amazing. Thank you to all that made this happen.
, comment by serpent_deflector
serpent_deflector Thank you to everyone who worked on this. I look forward to reading these transcriptions. High quality netters, is right!
, comment by EvenCarlSagan
EvenCarlSagan Well done & Congratulations/Cheers!
Amazing work.
Looking Fw to digging in A.S.A.P.
, comment by mingaling
mingaling This is amazing. I can't wait to dive into all of these transcriptions. Thanks for all your hard work, everyone!
, comment by aburtch
aburtch This is what I love about Phish fans. Great job to everyone on the team!
, comment by ColForbin
ColForbin Awesome work you guys, I remember pouring over the few transcriptions that existed way back in the 90s as a young fan and loving them. Having a spreadsheet of all of them kicks ass!
, comment by ucpete
, comment by Wombat_en_Fuego
Wombat_en_Fuego I am simply amazed by the devotion of these contributors, and in general. When I tell someone I listen to Phish and Grateful Dead, the immediate assumption is I'm lazy, or dumb, or behind the times, or all of the above. I usually just laugh. But I'd love to direct them to contributions like this, as an example of the complexity of the phan base.
, comment by conormac
conormac Nice one!
, comment by OrangeSox
, comment by dscott
dscott This is remarkably cool!!! Thanks for your efforts to produce this treasure trove of treasures!
, comment by askesis
askesis This is amazing! Thank you! This is A LOT of work, pholks. What a service to our community! I started transcribing narrations for a research project in just before the Miami NYE and I'm no where near done. This database will expedite the project. Can't wait!
, comment by ucpete
ucpete Some much deserved press:

, comment by mcgrupp81
mcgrupp81 Outstanding work. Which Forbins narration is the one where Trey is drunk(?) and refers to the Helping Fucking Book? Think it was in Seattle or another West Coast venue.
, comment by sleepingmonkey303
sleepingmonkey303 Seriously. Amazing work. WOW!
, comment by buffalo_voice
buffalo_voice This is so incredible, thank you to all who made this a reality! Tapes for 3/22/93 Sacramento came to me through the phan-tape pipeline and they were cherished and shared with my friends. It was maybe the first full show I got and what a show to start with. The narration and the Gamehenge songs were so much to dive into with the mythology, the complex music and the funny jokes and names, it all made me a lifelong Phish fan. Thanks for helping me deepen that connection to the music by being able to read these transcriptions.
, comment by Culture_Czar
Culture_Czar @Wombat_en_Fuego said:
I am simply amazed by the devotion of these contributors, and in general. When I tell someone I listen to Phish and Grateful Dead, the immediate assumption is I'm lazy, or dumb, or behind the times, or all of the above. I usually just laugh. But I'd love to direct them to contributions like this, as an example of the complexity of the phan base.

I posted a setlist link to Twitter for some reason or another recently and it became the source of a day long discussion among non-fans: they marveled at the footnotes, jamcharts, notations about teases, etc. They couldn’t believe the level of work and devotion that goes into .net.
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