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This Is All a Dream We Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead Hardcover – November 10, 2015
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"This Is All A Dream We Dreamed is an epic jam." ―Vanity Fair
"You could hardly ask for a more ideal configuration for a retelling of the Grateful Dead's story than an oral history, which is, after all, the jam band of biographical formats.... [T]he editors have pulled off the pretty neat hat trick of filling in plenty of cracks for the hard core while providing a basic education for novices. Best of all, they've provided a celebration that never feels remotely like hagiography. Even a nominal fan has to appreciate the wonder and unlikeliness of how the band sustained that first quarter-century or so of magic." ―San Francisco Chronicle
“Because both authors have been immersed in this world for decades, they’re able to assemble a storyline out of the wealth of material at their disposal without being overwhelmed by it…even the casual observer will find plenty to relish…the book is fluid, collaborative, immersive.” ―Columbus Dispatch
“Despite its title, what makes this book different from all other books on the Grateful Dead is that it is anything but dreamlike. It is down-to-earth, plainspoken, without special pleading or arguments for differing levels of awareness. You didn't have to be there. On many pages, this could be the story of any band-the story as it emerges here carries no pretensions-and elsewhere it is the story of people doing their work. And it is so full of the intensity and repetitions of ordinary life that it throws the work that was done into a new light.” ―Greil Marcus, rock critic
“This epic oral history of the 50-year-old band… is a solid, engaging chronicle.” ―Publishers Weekly
“[Jackson and Gans] know as much as nearly anyone alive about the storied band…. There’s plenty of peace and love here and lots of smoke and psychedelia, as well as the usual Altamont regrets, all voiced by people in and close to the band. Worthy of Studs Terkel and an essential addition to the books of the Dead.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“The Grateful Dead, when they were making music together, may have sometimes seemed ‘more than human,’ but they were always the first to admit that they were less than perfect. Here they are, in all their cockeyed glory. Gans and Jackson have orchestrated a shrewd, essential account of the band members’ lives and times, a tale as polyphonic as the ‘electronic Dixieland’ they unperfected through the years, to our (and their) enduring delight and awe.” ―Nick Paumgarten, staff writer, The New Yorker
“Jerry, Kesey, Bobby, Billy, Bear―this amazing book speaks to me out loud, inside my head, in all the voices of the Grateful Dead! It’s an audio illumination of family, fans, and friends, and the long, strange trip. It leaps straight out of the tree-flesh to dance in our dreams.” ―Wavy Gravy
“[A] high-demand backstory...lively oral history.” ―Booklist
"Readers will quickly become absorbed into the Dead's world and will feel that everyone is speaking directly to them.... There may currently be no better introduction to the Grateful Dead than this superior tome." ―Derek Sanderson, Library Journal, starred review
“This Is All a Dream We Dreamed reads like exactly what it is―a beautiful textual tapestry of late 20th century American music, and what happened to that music when it turned on, tuned in, and dropped into a heady space all its own. A must-read for Deadheads.” ―Buffalo News
About the Author
BLAIR JACKSON penned Grateful Dead: The Music Never Stopped and wrote and published 27 issues of the acclaimed fanzine The Golden Road. He is also the author of the definitive biography Garcia: An American Life.
DAVID GANS has published three books on the Dead. He is the producer and host of the nationally syndicated Grateful Dead Hour, is cohost of SiriusXM's Tales from the Golden Road, and is a working musician who has incorporated Grateful Dead songs and improvisation into his own work.
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"The music is central to the Grateful Dead culture, but the culture created itself around that music in a number of ways, which in turn affected the music."
"If you understand it, if you vibrated with it, it was just incredibly attractive."
"We're just playing, getting off, out to have a good time and giving it all a chance to happen." Jerry Garcia.
"Playing is in fact the best high that I know." Jerry Garcia.
This is an oral history of one of the most iconic bands to ever come out of the sixties. Is everything included here new? No. Some things (like the band's formation) you've probably read previously, but the viewpoints all blend together into a good picture of the band and the scene around them, as seen by a number of disparate viewpoints. Intelligently laid out, and written straightforwardly, the many viewpoints are from people who were there at the time--sometimes with a different view of what went down. But that's what gives this book it's appeal--as if you're listening to an anecdote from someone in front of you. And someone else may tell it slightly differently. But there's an authentic feel to these observations that's refreshing--none of this "I heard...", "Someone told me...", etc. This isn't a book filled with second-hand reporting, and that's it's real value. As time slips by, those times way back then seem to cloud over, so it's a good thing that the authors, Blair Jackson and David Gans, have collected and collated enough information before it's really too late. There's probably not two other writers who are such authorities on the GD, and can weave a story like this together using the oral biography approach.
"A long time ago, we were sort of incidental music at the celebration of life. Which was super cool. Now, however, we're in the position of being rock 'n' roll stars, which is not anywhere near as cool." Jerry Garcia.
Included (because the thrust of the book is an oral biography) is a list of people in the book, a list of sources used, a bibliography, and an index of "speakers" and names. There's also eight "Codas", written by different people about various parts of the GD scene which are interesting each in their own way. There's a b&w photo at each chapter heading, that's it.
"With our scene here, we've managed to employ just about everyone we know in some capacity, because everybody has something they can do." Jerry Garcia.
"The streets got really, really dirty. It was just insane." Rosie McGee, Grateful Dead family member/insider on the Summer of Love.
"So, Jerry, you have a record in the Top Ten." "It's not my fault." Jerry Garcia answering Allan Arkush.
The book traces not just the band, but gets us closer to the sub-cultrure that grew up around the band that was fully part of the scene back then. But besides the music (and how good the acid was) the band was (rightly) concerned with how their music was marketed by a bunch of "straights in suits". You'll hear from people like Bill Graham, Mountain Girl, John Cutler, Owsley Stanley, John Cippolina, John "Marmaduke" Dawson (late member of one of my favorite bands, NRPS), Wavy Garvy (Merry Prankster), David Crosby, Rosie McGee, Betty Cantor-Jackson, Peter Tork (yes, of The Monkees), members of the band, and a number of others, both well and lesser known, from people in the GD orbit.
"Right here, I want the sound of thick air." Bob Weir to producer Dave Hassinger, who walked out of the studio.
"Back in the old days when we were taking acid and stuff, I learned some of my most important musical lessons." Jerry Garcia.
With the use of both newer and archival interviews, both published and unpublished, the book traces the story of the GD from their country /bluegrass/blues/rock beginnings, to psychedelic rangers, to a band that found mass appeal relatively late in their careers. The insightful comments and observations really do bring that whole era into a better focus--even if you were lucky enough to be there back then. In this period of the band's big 50th Anniversary, there's a number of books being published about the band. This book is one of the better books that deserves to be on your GD bookshelf.
"This'll never be the same again. It'll always be something else. It's just a whole different thing." Jerry Garcia on Pigpen's death.
"To me, psychedelics are a gift of nature that bring tribalism to people." Owsley Stanley.
"With this rock band I can rule the world!" Jerry Garcia on Owsley Stanley when he first heard the band at the Acid Test.
"I don't think anybody--still--knows what went on or what happened, or what the true repercussions of the sixties will be." Paul Kantner.
"My last memories of Jerry are sitting with him backstage going through the sculpture books of Andy Goldsworthy page by page." Wavy Gravy.
And two other pretty cool books are "Grateful Memories; Ten Years on the Road Taping the Dead", by Jim Daley, which is his personal account of taping the band from '79-'89. It's a nice look at the scene back then no matter if you were there, or you just want to get an idea of what it was like. The other book is "California Dreams The Art of Stanley Mouse", a collection of Mouse's artwork both in and out of the concert scene. This large size book has very nice reproductions of many of his art pieces including his car-art and his poster work in S.F. Plus, with Blair Jackson's help, Mouse tells the story of his life and times. Check out his piece titled "Need A New Brain", 1993, on page 158. Hmmm.