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Cornell '77: The Music, the Myth, and the Magnificence of the Grateful Dead's Concert at Barton Hall

Cornell '77: The Music, the Myth, and the Magnificence of the Grateful Dead's Concert at Barton Hall

by Peter Conners


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On May 8, 1977, at Barton Hall, on the Cornell University campus, in front of 8,500 eager fans, the Grateful Dead played a show so significant that the Library of Congress inducted it into the National Recording Registry. The band had just released Terrapin Station and was still finding its feet after an extended hiatus. In 1977, the Grateful Dead reached a musical peak, and their East Coast spring tour featured an exceptional string of performances, including the one at Cornell.Many Deadheads claim that the quality of the live recording of the show made by Betty Cantor-Jackson (a member of the crew) elevated its importance. Once those recordings—referred to as "Betty Boards"—began to circulate among Deadheads, the reputation of the Cornell '77 show grew exponentially. With time the show at Barton Hall acquired legendary status in the community of Deadheads and audiophiles.Rooted in dozens of interviews—including a conversation with Betty Cantor-Jackson about her recording—and accompanied by a dazzling selection of never-before-seen concert photographs, Cornell '77 is about far more than just a single Grateful Dead concert. It is a social and cultural history of one of America's most enduring and iconic musical acts, their devoted fans, and a group of Cornell students whose passion for music drove them to bring the Dead to Barton Hall. Peter Conners has intimate knowledge of the fan culture surrounding the Dead, and his expertise brings the show to life. He leads readers through a song-by-song analysis of the performance, from "New Minglewood Blues" to "One More Saturday Night," and conveys why, forty years later, Cornell '77 is still considered a touchstone in the history of the band.As Conners notes in his Prologue: "You will hear from Deadheads who went to the show. You will hear from non-Deadhead Cornell graduates who were responsible for putting on the show in the first place. You will hear from record executives, academics, scholars, Dead family members, tapers, traders, and trolls. You will hear from those who still live the Grateful Dead every day. You will hear from those who would rather keep their Grateful Dead passions private for reasons both personal and professional. You will hear stories about the early days of being a Deadhead and what it was like to attend, and perhaps record, those early shows, including Cornell '77."

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501704321
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 04/11/2017
Pages: 232
Sales rank: 202,919
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Peter Conners has written extensively about music and counterculture, including his books Growing Up Dead: The Hallucinated Confessions of a Teenage Deadhead, JAMerica: The History of the Jam Band and Festival Scene, and White Hand Society: The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg. He lives in Rochester, NY, where he is Publisher of BOA Editions, Ltd.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Grown Up DeadThe Sex Pistols, Disco, and the DeadCold Rain and SnowSonic ExperimentsJust the Right NightFirst SetSecond SetBetty BoardsThe Show That Never HappenedEpilogue: A Band Out of Time

What People are Saying About This

Peter Richardson

"Peter Conners draws on an exceptionally wide range of sources—musicians, sound engineers, ticket takers, tapers, groundlings, record executives, archivists, journalists, and historians—not to argue that the Barton Hall event was the best Grateful Dead concert ever, but rather to show how it encapsulated the Dead's unique project and its extraordinary reception. By situating this remarkable concert in its place and time, Conners also demonstrates why the Dead's project continues to matter today. Cornell '77 will show aficionados and casual readers alike how the Ithacan part stands for the Dionysian whole."

Nicholas Meriwether

"For years, fans and critics have raved about the Grateful Dead's concert at Cornell's Barton Hall on May 8, 1977. Yet for all of the accolades, this celebrated show has never been fully explored and explained— until now. Peter Conners tells the story of this remarkable event with zeal and precision, teasing out the magic from the myth and showing how this night became a legend."

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