Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Grateful Read

Used books on Amazon are, like, a buck. Figure three to ship. Four American dollars can get you a brand-new used book about, concerning, or by the Grateful Dead. These are the ones that are currently in my home. Actually, they’re not just in my home, they’re piled right in front of me, right next to the computer, which is playing the Dead (4/1/88) while I write this nonsense about the Dead. Out of the six tabs I have open, three are in some way Dead-related.

If the cries for help had previously been implicit, they are now made flesh. Yes, on one hand, it’s better than sitting there watching TV, but just barely.

Anyway, so these are the books I own (currently, but we’ll get to that) about the Dead, along with thoughts on the Dead books. (Did you see what I just did there? I worked my brand into the mix and resold it to you. I have mastered the bloggings!)

Here we go:

Long Strange Trip, by Dennis McNally. This one’s the big swingin’ dick of Dead books. The Official Saga.

Garcia by Blair Jackson. This book has sad.

Dark Star: An Oral Autobiography of Jerry Garcia by Robert Greenfield. There’s a great intro by Bobby in my edition. He almost immediately mentions his days ropin’ and a ridin’. Bobby spent a summer on a ranch once. Bobby had gotten thrown out of three boarding schools that year and his parents had had about enough of his bullshit and shipped him off to some friend of their cousin’s cow-shit factory and for 50 years, we’ve had to politely go along with the fact that Bobby actually thinks he’s a fucking cowboy.

Searching for the Sound by Phil Lesh. Very tough to make fun of this book, even though making fun of Phil is so satisfying. He comes off as a sincere Musician and Seeker, who lived through some groovy–but also very dark and sad!–times who was saved by a Waffle House waitress named Jill and is now a devoted family man. Which is, of course, the problem: Phil’s writing the book for his fucking kids. He takes the high road: the word “anal” does not appear anywhere in the book, which is odd because Phil had this thing he liked to do to groupies that was called a Phil Bomb. I want to love Phil’s book; I root for the guy. But, wow, is Scully’s book more fun. Which is sad, because Phil reaches for nobility with some rather lumpy prose while Scully is the worst scumbag that ever managed the Dead. DO YOU REALIZE HOW HIGH THAT BAR IS SET?

Living with the Dead by Rock Scully and David Dalton. In which we learn that Mountain Girl was a Mean Girl, Bobby was a cheesedick, Billy was a ephebophile, and Garcia smelled.  The existence of this noxious gossip is only tempered by the knowledge that Scully wrote this with a gun to his head, an actual thuggish man shoving a Ruger into poor Rock’s temple and demanding that he write the book.  What? He did it for the money? He supplied his friend with heroin for a decade and then wrote a book about his hygiene for a check in the mid-5 figures? There’s a Yiddish word for a guy like that: asshole.

Going Down the Road by Blair Jackson. Interview with the band, plus lots and lots of padding that no one–and I am including the author of said padding–has ever read.

Playing in the Band by David Gans and Peter Simon. Pictures and interviews. Great cover photo: they are all so greasy, unshaven, and surly-looking. They look like a gang rape about to break out. They scare me, but I like it  a little bit; they’re gonna have their way with me, but I’m gonna let them: that sort of vibe. (Did that just get weird? It got weird; I apologize.)

Skeleton Key: A Dictionary for Deadheads by David Shenk and Steve Silberman. A nifty little time capsule from 90’s Deadhead-land. A little skewed towards prep school douchebaggery, but entertaining and charming.

The American Book of the Dead: The Definitive Grateful Dead Encyclopedia by Oliver Trager. So much cool stuff in this thing. I wrote a post about it here.

Dead to the Core: An Almanack of the Grateful Dead by Eric F. Wybenga.  I’m going to write a whole post about this guy’s book, it’s so great.

The Book Full of Nonsense Sam Cutler Wrote by Sam Cutler. This is just a joke. I have read Sam Cutler’s book, and enjoyed it thoroughly without believing for one second that even a plurality of the stories aren’t complete bullshit. But I no longer own it, so looking up the title would require research. And you all know my stance on that.


  1. re: Rock Scully

    Notable that Bear also calls his bullshit to the carpet in “Dark Star”. Yet what to make of Weir and Lesh having this cozy gab session with him nearly a decade after he published his “noxious gossip”, as you say.

    Haven’t read his book, so I don’t know if he airs any of Billy’s dirty laundry, but the absence of the lone dick-punching band member in that interview makes me wonder…

  2. Plus, there’s this pointed comment in the preface to “Dark Star”:

    “Although I did not realize it at the time, many of those who spoke to me about Jerry did so in order to make it plain that they had played a significant role in his life and so deserved serious consideration when it came time to parcel out what he had left behind.”

  3. Not to mention from Billy’s own lips:

    “He’s (Steve Parish) a wonderful guy, but a lot of stuff in that book wasn’t true. The stuff about me wasn’t true (laughs). Rock Scully’s book has the same problem. There’s a lot of stories in there.”

    Maybe the boys don’t hold a grudge. Which is a good thing.

  4. So, one may “Un-Dickpunch” another?

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