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Skeleton Key: A Dictionary for Deadheads Paperback – August 1, 1994


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Skeleton Key: A Dictionary for Deadheads + The American Book of the Dead + Relix: The Book - Music for the Mind
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Main Street Books; 1st edition (August 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385474024
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385474023
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #489,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

dead-icated followers. While many picture a Deadhead as a scruffy youth in a tie-dyed T-shirt who drives a wildly painted bus and follows the Dead from concert to concert, Deadheads form a unique subculture that includes people of all ages and from all walks of life. In attempting to capture a culture that mythologist Joseph Campbell called "the most recently developed tribe on the planet," this book includes album reviews, band member profiles, and Internet addresses. But best of all, it captures the Deadheads' rich jargon-from crispy, the ick, and jonesin to rezzie, spacedancing, the Zone, and many more. Essential for larger public libraries, music collections, and any venue where Deadheads park their bus. [See also Sandy Troy's Captain Trips: A Biography of Jerry Garcia, reviewed on page 79.-Ed.]-Tim LaBorie, St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphi.
--Tim LaBorie, St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

One of the most long-standing subcultures in America today is that of the Deadheads--the fans and followers (literally) of the perdurable 1960s San Francisco rock band the Grateful Dead. Over the years, an impressive number of cottage industries--including a newsletter, books, magazines, and a thriving trade in audio and video performance tapes--has sprung up to serve this subculture. Now comes the dictionary of the Dead, in which we learn, for example, about "energy balls," a recreational form of glowing energy that "psychedelically sensitized Heads" play with at concerts as more mundane souls might with beach balls. Besides such curious phenomena, the dictionary includes tiny biographies of significant members of the Dead community and technical entries such as one for MIDI (musical instrument digital interface). And that's the beauty of the book; indeed, of the whole Deadhead thing--you're just as likely to be talking advanced electronics and music as to be tossing pure energy back and forth. Not just informative, this book's a great trip. Mike Tribby

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 8, 1996
Format: Paperback
Being one of the book's authors, I can hardly claim a detached perspective (grin), but I did want to say a few words about Skeleton Key so amazon.com readers could get a clearer picture of the book.

Skeleton Key: A Dictionary for Deadheads is the first in-depth map of the Deadhead subculture, the global community of folks who love the music of the Dead and the experience of Dead shows, and build community with others who feel the same way.

I am very grateful that my co-author and I got to record so much of the humor, lore, depth, and passion of our community before the Grateful Dead ceased to exist. In writing this book, we interviewed hundreds of Heads - at shows and online - and we tried to undo a lot of the shallow stereotyping of Deadheads promulgated by lazy journalists by depicting as broad a spectrum of Heads as possible.

You're welcome to read excerpts from Skeleton Key by following the link from my home page at [...]

Take care!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Steve Thomas on July 2, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read so many books about the Dead that I can't even remember all of them... but this one... this one is different. It's not a history, or a biography, or anything authoritative. It's just a bunch of juicy Deadness for the Deadheads. It reminds me of actually being there!

I saw over 300 shows. The Boys were a huge part of my life (and they always will be). No... I'm not a youngin'... My first show was in '77, long before the Touchheads. This book gets the tone right. Probably the single most difficult thing to capture in a Dead book. I can feel the rush of the lights, the sweat from all the dancing... GOD I MISS THIS BAND!!!

There is NOTHING like a Grateful Dead show... and this book does a pretty decent job of remembering why!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By William Kennedy on June 4, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book is a labor of love from a person who has been immersed in the cultural phenomena known as he "Grateful Dead".
Any person who has attended Grateful Dead "shows" will find that this book tremendously enriches the memories and experiences.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Matt Setton on February 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
Hey everybody!i have just finished this book! it's awesome! it really takes me back to the tours of the day! If you want to be taken back too, then take a copy of this book home with you today! i guarantee you won't regret it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Uncle Sam on June 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
I've had this book since 1995 and my copy is about worn through! I've read it dozens of times from cover-to-cover and still find new and interesting things. Great book for anyone interested in the scene and/or the music!
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More About the Author

David Shenk is the national bestselling author of five previous books, including THE FORGETTING ("remarkable" - Los Angeles Times), DATA SMOG ("indispensable" - New York Times), and THE IMMORTAL GAME ("superb" - Wall Street Journal). He is a correspondent for TheAtlantic.com, and has contributed to National Geographic, Slate, The New York Times, Gourmet, Harper's, The New Yorker, NPR, and PBS. His new book, THE GENIUS IN ALL OF US, has been called "engrossing" by Booklist (starred review) and "empowering...myth-busting" by Kirkus.

Shenk's work inspired the Emmy-award winning PBS documentary "The Forgetting," and was featured in the Oscar-nominated feature "Away From Her." He has advised the President's Council on Bioethics, and is a popular speaker. His original term "data smog" was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2004.

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