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Grateful Dead's Workingman's Dead


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction Chapter 1: Background, Historical and Personal Chapter 2: "Uncle John's Band" Chapter 3: "High Time" Chapter 4: "Dire Wolf" Chapter 5: "New Speedway Boogie" Chapter 6: "Cumberland Blues" Chapter 7: "Black Peter" Chapter 8: "Easy Wind" Chapter 9: "Casey Jones" Notes

Promotional Information

An intimate portrait of the 1970 Grateful Dead album, Workingman's Dead, charting its influences and historical importance.

About the Author

Buzz Poole has written about music, design, and culture for numerous outlets, including The Village Voice, The Believer, Print, and San Francisco Chronicle.


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) *
Buzz Poole nails his take on Workingman's Dead, with the song-by-song conceit proving surprisingly agile for the Dead. Poole unpacks and links the mythos attached to the album's eight songs and their histories in the Dead's songbook. Like the Dead, Poole sweeps through the American territories, from the American folklore of 'Casey Jones' to the Manson murders. Good stuff, fun read. * Jesse Jarnow, author of Heads: A Biography of Psychedelic America (2016) *
Poole provides a thoughtful, detailed, and passionate look at this seminal album that frames its achievement and demonstrates why it still rewards close listening. It's great to see the Dead represented in this series! -- Nicholas Meriwether, Grateful Dead Archivist
Buzz Poole brings us back to the time before capitalism consumed the counterculture; the musical and cultural moment when the Grateful Dead reluctantly accepted the mantle as the horse pulling the wagon full of hippies, freaks, outlaws and others through the darkness of the world of power, war, and greed...Poole does an excellent job in pulling together the diverse and multiple musical, folk and literary influences apparent in the songs on Workingman's Dead (and most other Dead albums, too.) * Counterpunch *
[A] little beauty ... [and] the only Dead book I know of devoted to a single album ... No matter how extensive your Dead library, you should make room for this wee addition. * Shindig! *

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