“In 1969 the Grateful Dead executed an extraordinary pivot. While playing brilliant, deeply improvisational psychedelic music, they simultaneously began to create a series of traditionally-styled new American folk songs that would be collected in Workingman’s Dead. It is perhaps the key moment in their storied history, and Buzz Poole explores this evolution with insight and a profound understanding of how these songs fit into American cultural history.” – Dennis McNally, author of A Long Strange Trip (2003) and On Highway 61 (2014)
Released in 1970, Workingman’s Dead was the breakthrough album for the Grateful Dead, a cold-water-shock departure from the Acid Test madness of the late ‘60s. It was the band’s most commercially and critically successful release to date. Based on research, interviews, and personal experience, this book connects the album to topics as varied as Nixon administration memos, media guru Marshall McLuhan, and painter Charles Burchfield, probing the paradox at the heart of the band’s appeal: The Grateful Dead were about much more than music, though they were really just about the music.
Buzz Poole has written about books, design, art, music, and culture for numerous outlets, including The Village Voice, The Believer, Print, Los Angeles Review of Books, San Francisco Chronicle, Literary Hub, and The Millions. He is the co-author of Camera Crazy (Prestel, 2014); the New Statesman named his examination of unexpected iconography, Madonna of the Toast, one of 2007’s Best Underground Books.
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