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Posted May 9, 2000
If musical arcana (I think that's the right word) appeals to you, then this book is a goldmine. Not only does it contain a wealth of information on the Dead, their music, and related phenomena, but it provides a real education in American roots music. It's chock full of fascinating mini-biographies of Jesse Fuller, Robert Johnson, and many others. There are also enough interesting anecdotes, as well as in depth historical or speculative analysis of song origins, to regale any campfire for nights on end. Just to give one example, the rundown on Deep Elem Blues doesn't just enlighten us as to the origin of the song but encapsulates a fabulous snippet of the cultural history of Dallas. This book is so interesting that I was totally absorbed by the story of why Tim Rose shares songwriting credits with Bonnie Dobson on Morning Dew, and by the fact that such detailed minutae are not only available, but were tracked down by the author time and again.
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Posted November 8, 2008
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