Cover image for No simple highway : a cultural history of the Grateful Dead
Title:
No simple highway : a cultural history of the Grateful Dead
Author:
Richardson, Peter, 1959- , author.
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : St. Martin's Press, 2015.

©2014
Physical Description:
373 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, portraits ; 25 cm
Summary:
"For almost three decades, the Grateful Dead was America's most popular touring band. [This is] the first book to ask the simple question of why--and attempt to answer it. Drawing on new research, interviews, and a fresh supply of material from the Grateful Dead archives, author Peter Richardson ... recounts the Dead's colorful history, adding new insight into everything from the acid tests to the band's formation of their own record label to their massive late career success, while probing the riddle of the Dead's vast and durable appeal"--
Language:
English
Contents:
Ecstasy -- Mobility -- Community.
ISBN:
9781250010629
Format :
Book

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ML421.G72 R53 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

For almost three decades, the Grateful Dead was America's most popular touring band. No Simple Highway is the first book to ask the simple question of why--and attempt to answer it. Drawing on new research, interviews, and a fresh supply of material from the Grateful Dead archives, author Peter Richardson vividly recounts the Dead's colorful history, adding new insight into everything from the Acid Tests to the band's formation of their own record label to their massive late career success, while probing the riddle of the Dead's vast and durable appeal.

Arguing that the band successfully tapped three powerful utopian ideals--for ecstasy, mobility, and community--it also shows how the Dead's lived experience with these ideals struck deep chords with two generations of American youth and continues today.

Routinely caricatured by the mainstream media, the Grateful Dead are often portrayed as grizzled hippy throwbacks with a cult following of burned-out stoners. No Simple Highway corrects that impression, revealing them to be one of the most popular, versatile, and resilient music ensembles in the second half of the twentieth century. The band's history has been well-documented by insiders, but its unique and sustained appeal has yet to be explored fully. At last, this legendary American musical institution is given the serious and entertaining examination it richly deserves.


Author Notes

PETER RICHARDSON is an author and lecturer in the humanities department at San Francisco State University and outgoing chair of the California Studies Association. Before that, he was an editor at the Public Policy Institute of California, a think-tank based in San Francisco; a tenured English professor at the University of North Texas; and an acquisitions editor at Harper & Row, Publishers. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Berkeley. He lives in San Francisco. His previous book, A Bomb in Every Issue , recounts the rise and fall of Ramparts magazine.


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Although the Grateful Dead disbanded in 1995, after 30 colorful years of touring and recording stylistically eclectic albums, their fan base remains a thriving one, with the group's current Facebook page attracting almost two million followers. Those who have never understood the Dead's inimitable mystique often caricature band members as aging hippies idolized by pot-ingesting dropouts. However, for San Francisco State humanities professor Richardson as well as legions of Dead enthusiasts (aka Dead Heads), the stereotype easily dissolves within a broader picture of the band's enormous cultural impact, which the author presents here in a fascinating historical overview dating back to founding member Jerry Garcia's early adolescence. Richardson argues that the Dead's wide appeal was due to their embrace and support of three fundamental human urges for transcendence, mobility, and community, and he provides abundant examples from the band's days of drug experimentation, artistic exploration, and road tripping. While Dead devotees will revel in the wealth of biographical details here, every reader interested in music and its social repercussions will find Richardson's work both captivating and instructive.--Hays, Carl Copyright 2010 Booklist


Library Journal Review

This book is a missed opportunity. The author, a lecturer in humanities at San Francisco University, structures his narrative around what he considers the three central ideals of the Dead: ecstasy, mobility, and community. He tells the story chronologically, and the first part of the book, which takes us up until late 1969 and comprises nearly half of the text, is excellent, adding detail and nuance to a familiar story. Unfortunately, halfway through the second part of the work Richardson begins to lose his way. From this point on the author seems unsure about how to relate the band to the greater culture-seemingly his overarching goal-and the account consequently devolves into a series of pat summaries of the band's achievements from the mid-1970s to present. The final section reads more like a time line than a history. Overall, the work would have been a far stronger if the opening segment had been expanded by 50-100 pages and allowed to stand on its own. -VERDICT -Everyone from Deadheads to casual fans to historians of the 1960s will find great value in Richardson's initial narrative. For the rest of the story, Dennis McNally's A Long Strange Trip is the best place to start.-Derek Sanderson, Mount Saint Mary Coll. Lib., Newburgh, NY © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
Part 1 Ecstasyp. 9
Part 2 Mobilityp. 147
Part 3 Communityp. 245
Epiloguep. 305
Acknowledgmentsp. 313
Notesp. 317
Sourcesp. 339
Indexp. 355