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So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead Paperback – April 26, 2016
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"An education and revelation even for the seasoned Deadhead reader."Steve Silberman, author of NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
"Highly skillful and comprehensive."Houston Press
"Like a live bootleg, each chapter digs deep into the band's state of mind during one particular moment, and Browne enriches that moment with broader context and significance.... It's a wild trajectory, perhaps unrivaled by that of any of their contemporaries."Washington Post
"May well prove to be the go-to encyclopedia for all fans."PopMatters
"Well-written and capacious and digressive and wonderful."Thoughts on the Dead blog
Kirkus Reviews, April 2015
Righteous testimonial to the anarchic goodness that was the Grateful Dead...[Browne is] right about most everything. He also appropriately places emphasis on things other biographers have overlooked One of the better books on the band and welcome reading in this 50th anniversary year.”
Expect a flood of books for the Dead's 50th anniversary, but this one stands out thanks to new interviews and access to the band's extensive archives.”
"So Many Roads is everything Deadheads could want and more. In a deeply reported portrait of the band in good times and bad, David Browne answers all of our questions and poses a few of his own. As Deadheads celebrate the band's fifty years, this book will prove a companion that makes that long trip a little less strange but no less fascinating.”Eric Altermen, author of It Ain't No Sin to Be Glad You're Alive: The Promise of Bruce Springsteen and What Liberal Media?: The Truth about Bias and the News
"Browne presents the ultimate road map of the life and times of a band that has always been a unique American cultural phenomenon."
Robert Greenfield, author of Dark Star: An Oral Biography of Jerry Garcia and Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock and Out
"I'm a well-read Deadhead, and I learned new things even about shows I was at. (Englishtown, New Jersey, 9/3/77!) Browne braids tales of America's greatest rock band like melody lines in a primo jam, tangents looping back to the narrative, always pulling it forward. It's a wild, beautiful ride."Will Hermes, author of Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever
"The Grateful Dead have entered the realm of myth. The triumph of So Many Roads is animating both the music and the musicians into something very real indeed."Alan Paul, author of One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band
"The Grateful Dead are as classically American as Count Basie and Frank Sinatra, and David Browne has written the ultimate book about them: interviewing everyone and bringing us into their lives in the changing decades through which this quintessentially '60s band miraculously increased its mythos, stardom, and relevance. Legendary music gives our world back to us, and specific people, coming together as bands, give us the music that gives us that world. With his wise assessments, ace reporting, and close and long lenses, Browne gives us that world and those men.”Shelia Weller, author of Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simonand the Journey of a Generation
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"For all the field-of-flowers beauty of their music, the world of the Dead was unsentimental and demanding; to survive, one had to adapt and hold on tight." Public image versus reality of being in the band.
"How did they get together and relate to each other? They really worked on it. They wanted it badly. They were glued to the enterprise." Carolyn "Mountain Girl" Adams.
"The women did the cooking and the cleaning. All we had to do was get high and play music. It was like paradise." Phil Lesh, 1967.
"When one of the women who crashed at their home woke up in the middle of the night and saw Pigpen in her doorway, she needn't have worried; he came over and put an extra blanket on her." Public image versus private life of the band members.
"We''ll be with you just as soon as Pig finishes polishing his organ." Bob Weir.
As Deadheads know, this is the 50th anniversary of The Dead. So we can expect to see a number of books coming our way in the coming weeks/months. But an early contender for one of the better books is this good read from David Browne (author of the book "Fire And Rain" among others) who has written about music (and The Dead) for many years. It's great that Amazon is selling this book before the "official" release date, so fans won't have to wait any longer.
Yes, I know, what else is there to say about The Dead? Well, not a whole lot if the band is approached from the same angle as previous authors. But Browne has looked at the effects on the band/individual band members from various important points and/or a particular event/time in the band's life during the life of the band. Each chapter is connected to something that gives way to some insight into the band and their music. Plus, he's wisely connected things chronologically, beginning in the early '60s and up through the '80s, towards the end times for the band, and the necessity of coming to grips with life after Garcia's death. Some information will not be new to long time readers about The Dead (like me), but Browne has a way of weaving things we already know with his own angle that puts a fresh, interesting shine on the band and the era. After so many books about The Dead, it's the smaller details that make this book the most interesting--whether it's inside the band's house in Haight-Ashbury, on stage, the legendary "Wall of Sound", the Europe '72 tour, in the studio, the "Touch Of Grey" video, personal band interplay, or whatever--this book gets readers close to the band thanks to Browne. He pulls no punches when writing about the band or individual members--no matter if it's good/not so good/not so bad/bad.
"I stink, therefore I am." Band In-joke, 1984, about Garcia's personal hygiene and concern for his general well-being.
"Everybody's walking around stoned, and the chicks are naked. Topless women. Horses. It was unbelievable." DJ Mike Belardo, KMPX , S.F., on his visit to Mickey Hart's ranch, 1970.
"I'd bend my arm and hear my shirt." Rock Scully after ingesting a small amount of mescaline sulfate, 1965.
"The band happily stumbled their way down to the stage..the Dead just stood there, gazing up at a screen and giggling in a nitrous haze. To make his guitar sound like it too was laughing, Garcia began stroking the strings." Effects of pre-concert sharing of nitrous oxide courtesy of the Hell's Angels, 1970.
"You're just phoning it in." Bruce Hornsby to Jerry Garcia. "You don't understand twenty-five years of burnout, man." Garcia to Hornsby, 1991, after a lackluster live set.
Browne has interviewed a pretty fair cross section of folks who were there at the time in some capacity--friends, family, employees, hangers-on, and so on, and new interviews with surviving band members. Plus he's drawn on his own cache of information and the band's (deep) archives (helped by Dead archivist David Lemieux), put together from over the years, along with already existing information to weave his own slant on the band and their music, with no strings attached by anyone connected with the band, to the final version. The lay out of the book, plus Browne's easy to read style of writing and his putting everything into some kind of order, makes for not only an interesting and informative read, but (especially if you're a Deadhead) a book that's also fun to read. Plus, Browne has wisely included an Index, which a book of this type needs if you want to find something in a hurry. And Browne has added a Bibliography of selected reading for more information if needed. There's a b&w photograph at the head of each chapter that relates to that particular period, some which will be familiar to fans.
If you have a love for The Dead--no matter if you're relatively new and missed a lot of their whole scene, or you've been around even before the first use of the term "Deadhead" (like I was lucky enough to be)--this is a worthwhile addition to your (no doubt already cramped) Dead bookshelf.
"Lesh would often imagine the dust from Owsley's hand-pressed Blue Cheer acid drifting down through the ceiling and infusing the music they were making in the living room."
"The Acid Test was the prototype for our whole basic trip." Jerry Garcia.
"We're gonna be archetypes." Jerry Garcia to Jorma Kaukonen before the Dead had made their first record yet.