Eleven months ago, the "core four" members of the Grateful Dead announced their final concerts in Chicago. Four days later, No Simple Highway
appeared. The timing was coincidental; we always wanted a 2015 publication date to tap interest in the Dead's 50th anniversary, but the publisher also wanted more space between my book and Bill Kreutzmann's. (We shared the same editor and publicity team.) So mine was moved up to January, and Bill & Benjy Eisen's came out in the spring. David Browne's So Many Roads
also dropped in spring, and now we have strong additions by Dennis McNally (Jerry on Jerry
) and Blair Jackson & David Gans (This Is All a Dream We Dreamed
We're finishing the year with the paperback version of No Simple Highway
, and I'm especially gratified that Jeremy Varon, New School history professor and editor of The Sixties
, has published a brand new and very positive review
of the book. Man, it feels good when someone reads carefully, not to mention approvingly.
If this was a good year for the growing Grateful Dead bookshelf, the national response to Fare Thee Well was the strongest indication yet that the Dead's project was uniquely successful. According to Billboard
, the Chicago shows ranked first among the music industry's highest-grossing concerts, and the Santa Clara shows ranked third. No one familiar with the Dead's project was surprised by the fact that their community is still large, engaged, and incredibly supportive. But I'm glad the rest of the country (and the media) also witnessed that energy and support.
No Simple Highway
argues that the Dead's project has to be evaluated on its own terms. That's standard practice for all thoughtful criticism; you judge artists by how well they achieve what they set out to do. From the beginning, the Dead sought to get people high through music and to build community. By that measure, their achievement can't be denied.
Labels: Grateful Dead