Perspectives on the Grateful Dead: Critical Writings

Perspectives on the Grateful Dead: Critical Writings

Perspectives on the Grateful Dead: Critical Writings

Perspectives on the Grateful Dead: Critical Writings

Synopsis

The Grateful Dead, one of the most meticulously documented rock bands, significantly influenced American music and popular culture. Its popularity has endured for three decades despite mixed critical reception. Jerry Garcia, thought of among many as a musical icon and spokesperson for more than one generation of fans, was often equally scorned by various critics. This collection of scholarly essays attests to the varied fields of interest the band and its followers, known as "Deadheads," have affected, including psychology, law, and ethnomusicology. The contributions explore the diversity of the culture of fans, empirically analyze the music, apply literary criticism to the lyrics, and explore Dead-related philosophical and theological concepts -- in other words, they are as eclectic as the myriad Grateful Dead fans themselves.

Excerpt

Rebecca G. Adams

During the years since I took a class of sociology students on the Grateful Dead’s 1989 Summer Tour, I have had the pleasure of participating in the development of a community of scholars who analyze and describe the Deadhead phenomenon. Thanks to the effectiveness of the old Deadhead network and the opportunity to communicate electronically, many of these researchers and essayists have come to know one another personally and intellectually. Like Deadheads who tape shows, vend, drum, give away free stuff, play in cover bands, host radio shows, publish newsletters and magazines, or fill any number of other important roles in the larger Deadhead community, and whether they are Deadheads themselves or outsiders to the community they study, Deadhead scholars have found a way to make a contribution to the commonweal. Our job is to document the Deadhead experience and to interpret it from a variety of perspectives. This volume is one manifestation of this collective effort.

I have been impressed repeatedly with the norms of cooperation that prevail among Deadhead scholars. We freely exchange drafts, comment on each other’s work, and share information. For example, I became acquainted with Rob Weiner and David Dodd when they were working on The Grateful Dead and the Deadheads: An Annotated Bibliography (1997) provided them with a list of references I had collected over the years and a few annotations of masters’ theses. What goes around does indeed come around. Since that time, we have freely shared our resources, and I have come to rely on both their generosity and their superb skill as librarians.

The process behind the development of this volume, Perspectives on the Grateful Dead: Critical Writings, also illustrates the extent of cooperation among Deadhead scholars. At the same time Rob Weiner was formulating

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