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The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics [Paperback]

David G. Dodd

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Book Description

May 8 2007
When the Grateful Dead's in-house publishing company, Ice Nine, decided that the band's fortieth anniversary was a good time to publish their entire lyric catalog, a wave of excitement swept across the world of Deadheads, or would have had they known. What was that unclear word in "Uncle John's Band"? Would "Revolutionary Hamstrung Blues" be included? Which Cassidy is John Barlow writing about? Would Robert Hunter reveal the meaning of anything at all? These questions are finally answered with the publication of this book, but in true Grateful Dead fashion you'll have to dig around to find the answers and have fun doing it.
The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics is an authoritative text, providing standard versions of all the original songs so that you can win an occasional bar bet. Or not. There are songs you've never heard and others you've never heard right and still others you didn't know existed, and some, indeed, that may not exist at all. To provide a context for this formidable body of work, of which his part is primary, Robert Hunter has written a foreword that goes to the heart of the matter.
These are some of the best-loved songs in the modern American songbook. You will hear them hummed and spoken among tens of thousands as counterculture code and recorded by musicians of all stripes for their inimitable singability, mysterious presence, and obscure accessibility. How do they do all this? The annotations on sources provide a gloss on the lyrics, which goes to the roots of Western culture as they are incorporated into them. Be it fairy tale or folksong that the lyricists have drawn on, ancient verse, biblical narrative, or T. S. Eliot, the references are here. This has never been done before. There are things here that would not have otherwise been known or imagined, which also goes for what was in the minds of the lyricists themselves. They would be the first to admit that the incursion of imagery into their creative memory banks was a chancy business.
Annotation is a venerable literary tradition. It's been done for the works of Dante and Shakespeare, and for Finnegans Wake annotations may be essential. Mother Goose and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland have been annotated. All genres of writing can be illuminated by it, and that fundamental revelation that comes from reading books -- "Oh, I always wondered about that" -- becomes especially meaningful. David Dodd is well suited to the task of annotation. An avid Grateful Dead concertgoer for two decades, he is a librarian who brings to the work a detective's love of following a clue as far as it will take him. He first began the annotation as a research project in 1995, in the early days of the Web, through the medium of a website. As in all things virtual, it grew, and with input from interested correspondents from around the world, the website evolved continually. With their publication in book form, the Grateful Dead's lyrics can be newly savored, couched in the cultural traditions that spawned them.
With the addition of artist Jim Carpenter's illustrations, whimsical elements in the lyrics, aspects cognitively unreferenceable, and imagery often repeated are brought to light. What he has seen to illustrate itself illustrates the American legend that is present in The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics. You won't think of the cultural icon that is the Grateful Dead the same way again.

Product Details

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Even the most hardcore Deadheads will be impressed by this obsessively complete look at the Grateful Dead's lyrics written by Robert Hunter and John Barlow, as well as selected traditional and cover songs that were basic parts of the Dead's repertoire. In 1994, Dodd (The Grateful Dead Reader) founded the first Web site of annotated Dead lyrics, and this book is the product of that project, which united academics and fans in finding "new references, resonances, and refractions" in favorites like "Dark Star" and "Uncle John's Band." The annotations range from a look at the influence of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," Stephen Foster's "Oh Susanna," and Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde on Hunter's "New Speedway Boogie" to a recipe for cream puffs by Denver Post food critic John Kessler to illustrate "Cream Puff War," an obscure tune by Jerry Garcia. But the heart of the book is Hunter's exquisitely written foreword, which is equal parts love letter to the lyric tradition, impassioned argument on the importance of songwriting and creativity, and reverie for the Grateful Dead themselves and his luck in being their primary lyricist: "I lived lyric year in and year out for decades and never lost my taste for it." Illus., photos. (Oct. 27)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

The Grateful Dead, that legendary band born of the counterculture of the 1960s, possessed such an extensive catalog of original songs that it would take an academic 10 years to annotate them all. Enter David Dodd, Dead fan and cataloger at a major university. In 1994, Dodd needed a research project and hit upon the idea of annotating all the lyrics of his favorite band. He spent untold hours tracing possible allusions in the Dead's songs and posting them on his Web site. The end result is this comprehensive book that presents possible sources for lyrics without ever offering definitive interpretations. The songs are arranged chronologically by date of first performance and span from 1965 to 1995. For Deadheads, the work is mesmerizing, as many of the band's once enigmatic lyrics are now illuminated, if not completely. As one of the band's chief lyricists, John Barlow, says in the afterword, "We always tried . . . to give you plenty of room to flesh your own song around the bones of what we gave you." Jerry Eberle
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  80 reviews
44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a long strange trip its been Nov. 1 2005
By M. A. Filippelli - Published on Amazon.com
What an amazing compilation of Lyrics, anecdotes, art and commentary

This book has every Grateful dead song lyric and splits them up in order of the year that they where recorded or played live from 1966 to 1994. There are several hundred songs in all. Everything you can think of from Can't come down 1965 to 1994's Childhood's end and in between Candyman, Truckin, Casey Jones, Alabama getaway, China cat garden, Down the road and a few hundred more songs. Some of the cover songs are also in the book.

There is a lengthy forward in the book by Robert Hunter that goes into song writing and the spirit that goes into it that is very nicely written and gave me some insight to Mr. Hunter that I had not seen before.

The book is thoughtfully and beautifully laid out. Almost every page has artwork that is outstanding in its own right and very appropriate for a book involving the Dead. Most of the art work is black and white but there is some color artwork as well. There are also some well placed Biblical quotes. On most songs there are notes that give you the recording date and the first date of performance. The notes, artwork commentary and Biblical passages all provide a nice insight to the songs and how they took shape.

Dead head or passive follower, even if you know all the lyrics and are familiar with the Grateful Dead story this is a great book to look at and read.

Taken from the back cover "This book is great I will never have to explain myself -Bob Weir"

I feel like I'm Truckin got my chips cashed in, truckin like the Doodah man when I pick up this book.

10 stars in a 5 star limitation.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exploring the rich tapestry of Dead influences Nov. 15 2005
By Robert Meador - Published on Amazon.com
The Grateful Dead were always known for their eclectic influences, from Phil Lesh's unperformable classical compositions to Pigpen's deep understanding of the blues to Jerry's formidable old-time country and bluegrass credentials. The music they made together was a unique blend of the many threads that run through American music. This book offers a new perspective on those threads by examining the lyrics of Dead songs. Many of their songs were filled with references and allusions to American history, pop culture from many different eras, literature, other music genres, other songs, world religions, current events, and so on. This book identifies those references and creates a clear and rich picture of the context of the Dead's unique contributions to American music. It is well-researched, well-written, and a fascinating read.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Class all the way Oct. 24 2005
By Robin Russell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This beautifully and logically presented compendium of all the Grateful Dead's own songs, and many of the tunes they covered regularly, already sits at the very top ranks of the vast and growing Grateful Dead literature.

The illustrations, especially those drawn from the original Grateful Dead Songbook (which documents tunes from the Workingman's Dead and Amercian Beauty albums) are fantastic and often thought provoking illustrations of aspects of the band's huge repertoire.

The Grateful Dead was all about the music. This book will enrich anyone's understanding of American music. It is an absolute must for Deadheads.

And it provides tantalising insights into the creative processes of the Grateful Deads great lyricists, Robert Hunter and John Perry Barlow.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice Quality Jan. 21 2007
By N. Barnard - Published on Amazon.com
This book is real nice. It has lot's of interesting trivia and Americana. Reminds you how deep the Deads' roots go. Very nicely bound and printed, many great illustrations. Insightful, gives a good look into the context of the songs, and of course it's got all of the lyrics! This book was given to me when my brother died (look up Tennessee Jed)and I can attest that it makes a meaningful gift.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long live the Dead! Oct. 19 2005
By applewood - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Beautifully and lovingly done book, with complete lyrics of all the songs they performed regularly (including recent post-Garcia songs) along with helpful annotation (some terse, some in depth - 6 pages for Ramble on Rose!), covering possible, hypothetical and actual references, it is scholarly and thorough but not too ponderous or silly.

The Dead's main lyricists frame the body of the book with essays about their craft, their role and creative process. Hunter's forward is inspiring - playful, serious, insightful and educational all in one. Barlow's afterward is grounding and tender making a fitting tribute to the band and an era and a fine gift to us all.

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