Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
This Is All a Dream We Dreamed

This Is All a Dream We Dreamed

An Oral History of the Grateful Dead

Blair Jackson and David Gans

Flatiron Books

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Hardcover

In This Is All a Dream We Dreamed, two of the most well-respected chroniclers of the Dead, Blair Jackson and David Gans, reveal the band’s story through the words of its members, their creative collaborators and peers, and a number of diverse fans, stitching together a multitude of voices into a seamless oral tapestry. Capturing the ebullient spirit at the group’s core, Jackson and Gans weave together a musical saga that examines the music and subculture that developed into its own economy, touching fans from all walks of life, from penniless hippies to celebrities, and at least one U.S. vice president.

This definitive book traces the Dead’s evolution from its humble beginnings as a folk/bluegrass band playing small venues in Palo Alto to the feral psychedelic warriors and stadium-filling Americana jam band that blazed all the way through to the 90s. Along the way, we hear from many who were touched by the Dead—from David Crosby and Miles Davis, to Ken Kesey, Carolyn “Mountain Girl” Garcia, and a host of Merry Pranksters, to legendary concert promoter Bill Graham, and others.

Throughout their journey the Dead broke (and sometimes rewrote) just about every rule of the music business, defying conventional wisdom and charting their own often unusual course, in the process creating a business model unlike any seen before. Musically, too, they were pioneers, fusing inspired ideas and techniques with intuition and fearlessness to craft an utterly unique and instantly recognizable sound. Their music centered on collective improvisation, spiritual and social democracy, trust, generosity, and fun. They believed that you can make something real, spontaneous, and compelling happen with other musicians if you trust and encourage each other, and jam as if your life depended on it. And when it worked, there was nothing else like it.

Whether you’re part of the new generation of Deadheads who are just discovering their music or a devoted fan who has traded Dead tapes for decades, you will want to listen in on the irresistible conversations and anecdotes shared in these pages. You’ll hear stories you haven’t heard before, possibly from voices that may be unfamiliar to you, and the tales that unfold will shed a whole new light on a long and inspiring musical odyssey.

Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year

Reviews

Praise for This Is All a Dream We Dreamed

"This Is All A Dream We Dreamed is an epic jam." —Vanity Fair

"You could hardly ask for a more ideal configuration for a retelling of the Grateful Dead's story than an oral history, which is, after all, the jam band of biographical formats.... [T]he editors have pulled off the pretty neat hat trick of filling in plenty of cracks for the hard core while providing a basic education for novices. Best of all, they've provided a celebration that never feels remotely like hagiography. Even a nominal fan has to appreciate the wonder and unlikeliness of how the band sustained that first quarter-century or so of magic." —San Francisco Chronicle

“Because both authors have been immersed in this world for decades, they’re able to assemble a storyline out of the wealth of material at their disposal without being overwhelmed by it…even the casual observer will find plenty to relish…the book is fluid, collaborative, immersive.” —Columbus Dispatch

“Despite its title, what makes this book different from all other books on the Grateful Dead is that it is anything but dreamlike. It is down-to-earth, plainspoken, without special pleading or arguments for differing levels of awareness. You didn't have to be there. On many pages, this could be the story of any band-the story as it emerges here carries no pretensions-and elsewhere it is the story of people doing their work. And it is so full of the intensity and repetitions of ordinary life that it throws the work that was done into a new light.” —Greil Marcus, rock critic

“This epic oral history of the 50-year-old band… is a solid, engaging chronicle.” —Publishers Weekly

“[Jackson and Gans] know as much as nearly anyone alive about the storied band…. There’s plenty of peace and love here and lots of smoke and psychedelia, as well as the usual Altamont regrets, all voiced by people in and close to the band. Worthy of Studs Terkel and an essential addition to the books of the Dead.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“The Grateful Dead, when they were making music together, may have sometimes seemed ‘more than human,’ but they were always the first to admit that they were less than perfect. Here they are, in all their cockeyed glory. Gans and Jackson have orchestrated a shrewd, essential account of the band members’ lives and times, a tale as polyphonic as the ‘electronic Dixieland’ they unperfected through the years, to our (and their) enduring delight and awe.” —Nick Paumgarten, staff writer, The New Yorker

“Jerry, Kesey, Bobby, Billy, Bear—this amazing book speaks to me out loud, inside my head, in all the voices of the Grateful Dead! It’s an audio illumination of family, fans, and friends, and the long, strange trip. It leaps straight out of the tree-flesh to dance in our dreams.” —Wavy Gravy

“[A] high-demand backstory...lively oral history.” —Booklist

"Readers will quickly become absorbed into the Dead's world and will feel that everyone is speaking directly to them.... There may currently be no better introduction to the Grateful Dead than this superior tome." —Derek Sanderson, Library Journal, starred review

This Is All a Dream We Dreamed reads like exactly what it is—a beautiful textual tapestry of late 20th century American music, and what happened to that music when it turned on, tuned in, and dropped into a heady space all its own. A must-read for Deadheads.” —Buffalo News

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Blair Jackson and David Gans

BLAIR JACKSON penned Grateful Dead: The Music Never Stopped and wrote and published 27 issues of the acclaimed fanzine The Golden Road. He is also the author of the definitive biography Garcia: An American Life.

DAVID GANS has published three books on the Dead. He is the producer and host of the nationally syndicated Grateful Dead Hour, is cohost of SiriusXM's Tales from the Golden Road, and is a working musician who has incorporated Grateful Dead songs and improvisation into his own work.

Blair Jackson

Rita Hurault

David Gans

Rita Hurault