No Simple Highway: A Cultural History of the Grateful Dead

No Simple Highway A Cultural History of the Grateful Dead For almost three decades the Grateful Dead was America s most popular touring band No Simple Highway is the first book to ask the simple question of why and attempt to answer it Drawing on new resear

  • Title: No Simple Highway: A Cultural History of the Grateful Dead
  • Author: PeterRichardson
  • ISBN: 9781250010629
  • Page: 258
  • Format: Hardcover
  • For almost three decades, the Grateful Dead was America s most popular touring band No Simple Highway is the first book to ask the simple question of why and attempt to answer it Drawing on new research, interviews, and a fresh supply of material from the Grateful Dead archives, author Peter Richardson vividly recounts the Dead s colorful history, adding new insight inFor almost three decades, the Grateful Dead was America s most popular touring band No Simple Highway is the first book to ask the simple question of why and attempt to answer it Drawing on new research, interviews, and a fresh supply of material from the Grateful Dead archives, author Peter Richardson vividly recounts the Dead s colorful history, adding new insight into everything from the Acid Tests to the band s formation of their own record label to their massive late career success, while probing the riddle of the Dead s vast and durable appeal.Arguing that the band successfully tapped three powerful utopian ideals for ecstasy, mobility, and community it also shows how the Dead s lived experience with these ideals struck deep chords with two generations of American youth and continues today.Routinely caricatured by the mainstream media, the Grateful Dead are often portrayed as grizzled hippy throwbacks with a cult following of burned out stoners No Simple Highway corrects that impression, revealing them to be one of the most popular, versatile, and resilient music ensembles in the second half of the twentieth century The band s history has been well documented by insiders, but its unique and sustained appeal has yet to be explored fully At last, this legendary American musical institution is given the serious and entertaining examination it richly deserves.

    • No Simple Highway: A Cultural History of the Grateful Dead « PeterRichardson
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      Published :2019-08-18T00:53:47+00:00

    About " PeterRichardson "

  • PeterRichardson

    I teach humanities and American studies at San Francisco State University and serve as senior literary advisor to the Bay Area Book Festival I ve written critically acclaimed books about the Grateful Dead, one of the counterculture s most successful and durable institutions Ramparts magazine, the legendary San Francisco muckraker and Carey McWilliams, the Los Angeles author and longtime editor of The Nation magazine I ve also reviewed books for Truthdig, The National Memo, and the Los Angeles Times In 2013, I received the National Entertainment Journalism Award for Online Criticism Bred and buttered in the East Bay, I now live in San Francisco.

  • 308 Comments

  • I'm having trouble wrestling this book out of the hands of my husband which suggests it is pretty good. He is much more of a fan than I am and already knows quite a bit about them.*****Well, my husband finished it and I got my turn at this win. In my late teens and early 20s (spanning 1966 to 1971, I bounced around between Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and Berkley which gave me the chance to see The Grateful Dead and many other bands in relatively small venues. Richardson does a good job of [...]


  • Basically, I think I enjoy any book about the Dead, or at least anything that sheds a little new light, no matter how little that light might be. This one is good on its themes, and particularly good on Hunter and his relationship with the band, and how his lyrics express some key threads that run through the band's history. Like most of these books, its really good in portraying Jerry, who is always a focus, and does less well with everyone else. The book breaks into three sections, which Richa [...]


  • So often biographies and cultural histories lack the context to really understand the significance of the events in review. This book is narrative non-fiction in its best form. I love so much about this book, that I'm going to pull a Becky and copy out all my favorite quotes here. More to come'"Psychedelics were probably the single most significant experiences in my life," he [Jerry Garcia] said. "Otherwise I think I would be going along believing that this visible reality is all that there is." [...]


  • This book is worthy of its evocative title. Grateful Dead Scholarship - good work if you can get it! This thoughtful well-sourced contribution to the cultural studies genre will, if true to the Dead, receive mixed reviews - plenty there for both delight and discomfort. Pondering my own reaction (why This and not That?, etc.) I thought of a show (Alpine Valley?) things were a bit draggy, me hoping for something upbeat & they slowed it down, almost to nothing & Garcia ambled to the fore an [...]


  • There's no shortage of books about the Grateful Dead, and I've certainly read my share. Believe me, I know the story. I'm happy to say this one offers something fresh, and I found it a very compelling read. Without getting too textbookish, Mr. Richardson ties the band's unique journey to both the exterior cultural changes affecting their decision making process, and the band's effect on the culture around them. A familiar history from a wider perspective.


  • You would probably have to be a "Deadhead" to fully appreciate this although those interested in the Flower Child culture of the late 60s will enjoy various segments. The Grateful Dead who initally operated in the San Francisco/ Haight hippy scene were an enduring representative of that counter-cultural setting and that helped sustain their popularity. A major theme of the book is how the band tried to remain true to their cultural roots with their music while navigating the treacherous financia [...]


  • I will eventually write a longer review of this, but I really enjoyed it. I have read most of the Grateful Dead books, so I can't say I learned a tremendous amount of new material about the GD itself, though there were a few nuggets from Richardson's work in the Grateful Dead Archives that were new to me. He also does a great job of exploiting materials from the canon that I had forgotten about.Beyond the GD, I learned a bunch about the surrounding context, especially the SF avant-garde/&c. [...]


  • I received No Simple Highway as part of a giveaway.The Grateful Dead have achieved a cult status unlike nearly any other musician or band in history. No simple Highway is an explanation of the group's history, from its founding in the 1960s to the band's 21st century incarnation, called simply The DeadRichardson did an excellent job of researching the Dead, both from an academic and personal perspective, and the result is a fascinating history of one of the 20th century's great bands. What disa [...]


  • Richardson, a humanities and American studies professor, does a great job of tying The Dead into the cultural fabric of the country during their 30 year run as the greatest American rock and roll band. Through the three parts of the book--Ecstasy, Mobility, and Community--some new stories are uncovered and old ones are placed in context. It was good to see the lyricists (Hunter and Barlow) well represented and Stewart Brand's interviews were fascinating too. The last decade seemed a little rushe [...]


  • Both a biography of the band (especially Jerry Garcia) and a history of its times, this book tries to draw links between the two. Sometimes the connection is closer than one might think. For example, they were big fans of the Beats and of bluegrass and country music. They also had many connections to Internet pioneers.Although both the Dead and Jim Jones got their start in the Bay Area and had followings that some called cults, I don't think anyone would confuse the two. Yet Richardson takes pai [...]


  • Extraordinary book very well researched and written well as a documentary. He recreated an entire era mostly here in San Francisco related all to music and yet he gave us important times here in sixties and seventies. In reading this I was traveling down their highway. It was such a mixed tale and era with great interest in being generous and spreading the joy of music and yet the darkness was the so dangerous heavy drug use and abuse. So if this journey interests you do read this wonderful book [...]


  • This book was written by someone who, I believe, had never gone to a Grateful Dead concert. At first I thought “you got to be kidding, what right does he have to write about the group?!” But this book is really a cultural history of the U.S. from the 1950s through 1990s, using the Dead and San Francisco as a focal point. Certainly not a definitive history of the band, but an interesting supplement to all the other books out there. I really enjoyed the first section on San Francisco culture i [...]


  • Disclosure: I won this book in a GoodReads Giveaway. Gotta say, I am surprised by how much I liked this book. Great storytelling. It was fluid, meandering, and yet always found its way back to the focus. It was written exactly as a book on the Grateful Dead should be written. Though, to be fair, it is more of a cultural snapshot than a band biography.I would definitely recommend this book to any fan of the Grateful Dead or music in general.


  • Pretty good book, but loaded with a lot of weird digressions that added nothing to the story. He starts talking about the song Touch of Grey and then launches into five pages of Reagan's presidency. He quotes Garcia likening the Dead scene to joining the circus and then the next three paragraphs are a brief history of PT Barnum. Having been through grad school and having read many academic tomes I know what he was going for, but it just seemed clunky for the subject matter.


  • Fabulous and informative. Lots of names and sources referenced and most importantly, suggesting the themes that make the Dead so appealing: community, ecstasy and mobility. Right as I was finishing the book Bill Kreutzmann announced a surprise show at the Mystic in Petaluma with amazing musicians, including Steve Kimock. I got a ticket somehow and loved the performance and appreciated it more after what I read in this book. Thank you Peter Richardson for writing this book!


  • I won a copy of this book in a first reads giveaway. As a fan of classic rock, I really enjoyed this book. It via broken down into well organized sections detailing the history and cultural influences of and on the Grateful Dead. This would be an excellent book to utilize in any college course pertaining to modern music and pop culture.


  • The biggest concert news this year for Chicagoland and perhaps the entire United States was that the remaining members of the Grateful Dead will be reuniting for the last time ever at Soldier Field. Tickets are now being sold for (this is not a typo) over $100,000, after the entire batch sold out in mere minutes. There is hardly a vacant hotel room to be found in downtown Chicago that weekend. How is it that this band that didn't manage to place a single into Billboard's Top 10 until 1987's Touc [...]


  • So far as "cultural histories" of the Grateful Dead go, this one's pretty good. While McNally's "authorized biography" of the band gives you plenty more particulars and biographical information on the band members, this one does try (and quite well) to place their music into the context of the times in which it was created, stretching across the three decades with Garcia, and the two beyond that. It's still not quite the book I would hope to someday see written about the Grateful Dead, which act [...]


  • I loved this book because of its bigger picture, cultural history view ~ how the Dead was influenced by, and in turn influenced, American culture from the 1660s through to the 1990s ~excerpt from a longer review I wrote: Peter Richardson’s No Simple Highway: A Cultural History of the Grateful Dead pans out to take in a broader view. Combing through the newly-established Grateful Dead Archive at the University of California – Santa Cruz, Richardson ties the history of the band to larger cultu [...]


  • No Simple Highway: A Cultural History of the Grateful Dead by Peter Richardson (St. Martin's Press 2014) (780.92). Here's another brand-new addition to the pantheon of Grateful Dead scholarship (long may it continue). Author Peter Richardson even manages to come up with some new stories to share about rock's favorite roadshow! Here are three interesting things that I learned from this book: first, that it was Chet Helms of the Family Dog who coined the phrase, “May the Baby Jesus Shut Your Mou [...]


  • After reading many of the biographies written about the Grateful Dead, its members and scene, I was worried this book would be a regurgitation of those already reported. But Peter Richardson organized this "cultural history" in a fresh, creative way - focusing on the themes of ecstasy, mobility and community as the vehicles to tell the Grateful Dead's tale, abandoning the predictable chronology. The focus was more on how American culture gave birth to the Grateful Dead - and how the GD in effect [...]


  • If I could give ratings in 1/2 star increments I'd give this 3 1/2 stars. It has a lot of interesting information in it, but is poorly organized and disjointed. Richardson rambles on much of the time and I find his writing to be chaotic. His primary focus is Jerry Garcia, with a great deal of concentration on Grateful Dead's formative years, but as time progresses he offers less and less. Brent Mydland has perhaps three or four brief mentions, while Keith Godchaux had twice as much coverage whil [...]


  • Good view of the social and antisocial fabric of the world of the Dead. A few historical inaccuracies (Graham died in 91, not 92), but I enjoyed the ride. Beats, cowboys and astronauts the strangest of places, if you look at it right. Recommended for Heads and those just curious about the Road to Unlimited Devotion.


  • This was an incredible read. Sort of difficult to get through though. A lot of names get thrown at you. It wasn't so much a story of the Dead as it was a story of what went on around the Dead for 40 years. Check it out if you are a deadhead. Just be ready to be constantly flipping back to figure out who it is that you are reading about.


  • Great background reading this summer for the Grateful Dead farewell concerts. Reminded me how deeply intertwined the Dead were with the counterculture movements I came of age in. Deeply researched and very well written. Filled with insights and connections to artists, musicians, writers of the day -- Bill Graham, Ken Kesey, Jack Kerouac and at the center, Jerry Garcia.


  • As the subtitle suggests, it's at least as much about the world surrounding the Dead as it is about the Dead, with a focus on the early period, particularly pre-1970. As such, it's fairly unique among books about the Dead, and makes interesting reading.



  • Cultural history more than biographyFantastic read. Contectualizes eras in ways other dead biographies fail to. Very easy to follow and quite entertaining. Would read again.


  • I received this as a First Reads giveaway.It is very lengthy. I had a hard time keeping interest. However, my husband loved it. So we decided on a 4 star rating to compromise.



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