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Searching for the Sound: My Life with the…

Searching for the Sound: My Life with the Grateful Dead

by Phil Lesh

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295860,609 (3.76)5
In time for the Grateful Dead's fortieth anniversary, Phil Lesh offers the first behind-the-scenes history of the Dead. Lesh chronicles how the Dead's signature sound emerged, flowed, and swelled to reach millions of devoted fans, from their first gigs at Frenchy's Bikini-A-Go-Go for an audience of three, to the legendary Acid Tests, to packed stadiums around the world.… (more)



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I was really looking forward to this for two reasons:

1. The Dead is the best band of all time.
2. Phil Lesh always struck me as the Michael Palin of the Dead.

And while it begins well enough, Searching for the Sound soon becomes the written version of the 15-minute Space of set two that--admit it--you skip each time it comes up on iTunes. The problem is that Lesh continually tries to describe what he felt during some of his shows, and the result is unreadable:

"Invisible bands march across the soundstage in two different directions at different speeds; a solo viola mutters an occult hymn-tune as the rest of the orchestra spreads fireworks in all directions; the chorus intones wordless transcendental benedictions as the music fades away into silence."


"It was as if the music was being sung by gigantic dragons on the timescale of plate tectonics; each note seemed to take days to develop, every overtone sang its own song, each drumbeat generated a new heaven and a new earth. We were seeing and singing the quantum collapse of probability into actuality--it was frightening and exhilarating at the same time."

What the hell is he talking about? I feel bad ragging on a guy who has written "Box of Rain" and "Unbroken Chain," and maybe the second half of the book is better, but I'd rather hear him hold forth with his bass. Yet again I claim and bemoan the fact that no one has yet written a readable, engaging history of the Dead. Everything is either a freakshow or faux-philosophical treatise on "layers of being," etc. And don't get me started on that awful Amazon documentary. ( )
  Stubb | Aug 28, 2018 |
Very well written & very entertaining, Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh provides a detailed look at the formation and early years of the Grateful Dead. The latter half of the band's career is provided in less detail, but still remains fascinating to a read. Of all the biographies/autobiographies of rock & roll figures that I've read, Lesh's is the best. There is a tendency in the genre to go tabloidesque in the writing, clamoring over the excesses of sex, drugs and alcohol that often permeate the industry. Lesh acknowledges the presence of such factors in a very down-to-earth manner without obsessing over them or glamorizing them. Highly recommended to Deadheads & to fans of rock & roll biographies. ( )
  Adam_Z | Mar 19, 2018 |
A must read if you want to know the history of the Grateful Dead. This is a very well written book. ( )
  ForSusan | Mar 16, 2018 |
very enjoyable and pretty fair, albeit one man's version. fairly frank and direct, though some controversies are skipped (and that's not necessarily a criticism). if you're a fan, read it. ( )
  burningdervish | Nov 29, 2016 |
Read this book immediately after Kreutzmann's Three Decades of Drumming. This made a very interesting comparison of events and views by the two band members. Phil admittedly was a prick to music industry people and hanger-ons, but still comes off as the more mature band member. Kreutzmann also seems to relish in his tales, Phil tries to find the cosmic connection between everything. Billy was 'there', Phil was looking for 'beyond there'. Kreutzmann likes to kiss and tell where Lesh leaves very little of his escapades. One thing that comes clear out of both books is the strong bind that Garcia was. Both Kreutzmann and Lesh go to great details on their relationship with Jerry and how close they were while neither provides much information with regards to their relationship with other band members with one exception - Lesh does talk about close ties to Pigpen. Point being though is that Jerry was the glue and leader that they all looked to for guidance, decisions and keeping things together - though neither admits it. ( )
  rayski | Sep 16, 2015 |
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I have always considered myself a very lucky man.
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