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So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead
     

So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead

by David Browne
 

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The panoramic narrative biography of the Grateful Dead, by the acclaimed author of Fire and Rain

Overview


The panoramic narrative biography of the Grateful Dead, by the acclaimed author of Fire and Rain

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
05/01/2015
This very well-told history of the San Francisco-based band the Grateful Dead, which formed 50 years ago, contains new interviews, including with the living members of the group and some of their earliest fans and associates. This adds a freshness to the narrative. Rolling Stone and Men's Journal contributing editor Browne (Fire and Rain) is to be commended for telling the Dead's story completely and not just focusing on the band's glory years of 1969– 74 (or 1977, depending on whom you ask), as so many books on the Dead seem to do. Because of this, readers will realize just how dysfunctional the interpersonal relationships among the members grew to be. Surprisingly, except for very late in the group's career, this seemed rarely to affect the music. Browne also demonstrates that the Dead were much more in tune with their times—even the 1980s and 1990s—than is normally assumed. VERDICT It's hard to imagine a better book for a Dead neophyte to start with. This one is right up there with Blair Jackson's Garcia: An American Life and Dennis McNally's A Long Strange Trip.—Derek Sanderson, Mount Saint Mary Coll. Lib., Newburgh, NY
Kirkus Reviews
2015-03-11
Righteous testimonial to the anarchic goodness that was the Grateful Dead. You don't have to be stoned to listen to the Dead, but it can help. While it's unclear what Rolling Stone contributing editor Browne's (Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970, 2011, etc.) diet was when writing this book, he is quite clear on the band's unfortunate trajectory from a little grass here to heroin and speedballs there, with fatal consequences. But while the author doesn't shy away from the band's pharmaceutical inventory, neither does he let that get in the way of his assessment of the music, from the early brilliance of their country-tinged psychedelia to evolving jam classics such as "Dark Star," the likes of which, one fan remarks, surprised the band as well as the audience. Fittingly, half of the book is devoted to the first 10 years of the band. Just as fittingly, the second half takes the Dead from ragged band of hippies to post-'60s corporation—a friendly and groovy corporation but with all the headaches and internal politics of any multinational corporation. Browne misses a few points—the song "Dire Wolf," for instance, takes its name not from a wolf named Dire but from a Pleistocene critter that once roamed around Marin—and can be a little clunky ("By then some of the Warlocks had already tried the legal, odorless, and colorless hallucinogen discovered by Dr. Albert Hoffmann in Switzerland about three decades before"), but he's right about most everything. He also appropriately places emphasis on things other biographers have overlooked: the importance to the band's sound of Robert Hunter as a lyricist and arranger, the incessant intellectual curiosity of Jerry Garcia, and the unerring sense of bad judgment that brought the band to ruin—but also the good luck that allowed it to keep chugging along for so long. One of the better books on the band and welcome reading in this 50th anniversary year.
From the Publisher

"David Browne has come up with a completely unique way of telling the Grateful Dead's story, deftly moving back and forth through time from various chronological pivot points, weaving the intricate tale the way the Dead would open up, explore, and close a great '72 ‘Playing in the Band.' It's filled with little (and a few big) things I didn't know, and his evocative prose really brings out the band members' personalities in a way that few books have.”—Blair Jackson, author of Garcia: An American Life

"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

"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.”

Billboard, 3/7/15
“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.”

"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 Simon—and the Journey of a Generation

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780306821707
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
04/28/2015
Pages:
496
Sales rank:
413,667
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author


David Browne is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and Men's Journal and is the author of Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970 as well as biographies of Sonic Youth and Jeff and Tim Buckley. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Spin, The New Republic, and other outlets. He lives in Manhattan.

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