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Searching for the Sound: My Life with the Grateful Dead
by Phil Lesh
Publisher: Little, Brown
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Edition: Hardcover
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Customers who bought this also bought:
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2. Garcia: A Signpost to New Space by Jerry Garcia, Jann Wenner, Charles Reich
3. The Grateful Dead Movie
4. Chronicles, Vol. 1 by Bob Dylan
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Editorial Reviews:
Right in time for the Grateful Dead's 40th anniversary, eccentric bass player extraordinaire Phil Lesh has delivered fans a most welcome gift: his autobiography. There are many books out there about the Dead told from the perspective of roadies, journalists, third party observers, and fans. However, with the exceptions of Jerry Garcia's ramblings in Garcia: A Signpost to New Space and Conversations With the Dead, Lesh's Searching for the Sound is the first time a founding member of America's favorite band tells their own story of what it was like inside the Grateful Dead. And what a wonderful, strange tale it is.

Phil Lesh, considered the most academic of the group due to his avant-garde classical composition training, literate mind, and passion for the arts, decided to write his story himself. Written without the crutch of a ghostwriter, Searching for the Sound might be considered disjointed in places, but overall it comes across as conversational, intimate, informative, and candid (particularly regarding topics of drug use and death). If you are familiar with the band and their extended family, their history, the sixties' musical milestones and influences and all the band's famous tales (the Garcia/ Lesh "silent" confrontation, being busted on Bourbon Street, the Wall of Sound), you may be a little disgruntled there is not much new here in the way of content. However, what is "new" and totally satisfying is Phil's warm, optimistic perspective on the many events that helped shape his life. As described by Lesh, his life's journey, much like the Dead's music, is "a [series] of recurring themes, transpositions, repetitions, unexpected developments, all converging to define form that is not necessarily apparent until it's ending has come and gone." For the many fans who enjoyed the fruits of his life pursuit of sonic explorations, Searching for the Sound is a welcome addition to their Dead library. --Rob Bracco

Book Description
The bass player for the greatest improvisational band in American history tells the full, true story of his life, Jerry Garcia, and the Dead. Phil Lesh first met Jerry Garcia in 1959 in the clubs of East Palo Alto, California. At Garcia’s suggestion, Lesh learned to play the electric bass, joining him in a new band that blendedR&B;, country, and rock and roll with an experimental fervor never before heard. Now, in time for the Grateful Dead’s 40th anniversary, Phil Lesh offers the first behind-the-scenes history of the Dead--a story no one will ever know as he does. From their first gigs to the legendary Acid Tests, in San Francisco’s Summer of Love, at Woodstock, Monterey, Altamont, and the Pyramids, the Dead have been in the center of rock’s defining moments. Phil Lesh tells what it has been like to live at the heart of this whirlwind, making uncompromisingly original musicwith bandmates Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Pigpen, Mickey Hart, and especially Jerry Garcia, the charismatic, enigmaticsoul of the band. He tells the stories behind songs like "Dark Star," "Friend of the Devil," "Truckin’," and his legendary composition "Box of Rain." And in intimate detail, Leshdescribes what it was like to storm heaven night after night--and the price he and others have paid, up to and following Jerry Garcia’s tragic death in 1995. SEARCHING FOR THE SOUND is a ruthlessly honest look inside one of thegreatest American bands, written with humor, intelligence,and a deep affection that only Phil Lesh himself could provide.

Product Details
  • Hardcover: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown; edition (Apr 18, 2023)
  • ISBN: 0316009989
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 Based on 35 reviews.
  • Sales Rank: 3855

Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:

4Fascinating read... and I'm not even a fan., Aug 11, 2023
I missed the whole Grateful Dead phenomenon. I like some of their songs (and this book made me go out and listen to more with a new and more appreciative ear) but never enough to call myself a fan. But there I was, poring over the book, avidly enjoying it and wondering why it was so compelling.

Ultimately, it's because the book's not really about the Grateful Dead. It's not a slavish analysis of the minutiae of recordings or exhaustive tell-all about the interpersonal conflicts. Nor is it a puff piece, a smiley paean to the wonder and glory of playing with a Great Band. Instead it is a relatively small part of a larger whole, the story of a guy who lucked into an amazing series of events that started somewhere in Berkeley and ended up taking him all around the world. It's about a life we can probably scarcely imagine living, which is the point of a good autobiography.

Most importantly for me, it's about one man's love for music and his attempts to explain that by example and that was spellbinding for me. Yes, the Grateful Dead's history (and impact on history) is incredible, but he made me enjoy their music that much more. Yes, you hear about the arguments and the drugs and the triumphs and the tragedies, but throughout it there's this overwhelming appreciation of music that kept me turning pages.

You don't have to be a fan to pick it up. You just have to be a lover of music, as Lesh himself so obviously is.

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:

4Sound almost found, Aug 8, 2023
This is probably the most interesting and well written of the books on the phenomenon known as The Greatful Dead. Lesh goes into several areas not previously accessed, like sound technology and musical ideas. Space limitations prevented more details, which would have been even more interesting and revealing on many aspects of Dead lore. Overall, however, a masterful effort by the bassist and a "must have" for deadheads interested more in the intellectual than the partying side of this incredible musical unit.

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:

4Truckin' Down Memory Lane, Aug 8, 2023
What fun this book was. Phil tells his whimsical account of the evolution of a fabulous improvisational band. The prose is almost conversational and always strikes you as genuine. His true love and affection of his "brothers" from the Grateful Dead is touching and heart rendering. My personal favorite anecdote was the story of how when his new bride grew tired of the airplane travel on tour, they took to the road - and literally ended up cruising the highways and byways of the US with Deadheads following the band. Imagine what they thought when they looked at the car next to them and saw - Phil Lesh. Woah - did my eyes deceive me?

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:

5Well written, Aug 7, 2023
Unlike Dylan, whose Chronicles seem to suffer from the lack of a competent editor, Lesh has written a detailed and meaningful story that would keep even a non-Dead Head interested. It is amazing that Phil was able to remember such detail through the years. Rather than writing a kiss and tell book of sex, drugs, and rock & roll, he has documented a survival tale through an era of personal and cultural upheaval. His personal triumphs (conquering addiction, finding love and family)are a meaningful lesson set in front of an extraordinary backdrop of history. This book lends fascinating insight into an amazing era of Americana.

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:

5Listening for the secret.... , Aug 3, 2023
What makes this book about the Grateful Dead refreshing is that it was actually written by a band member (Phil Lesh, of course). Phil discusses his wild experiences as the Dead bass player during the SF psychedelic era and beyond. Deadheads will really enjoy the book, especially those who play instruments and have a musical bent. Garcia gave Phil a single lesson on how to play bass and Phil took off from there, incorporating influences from classical music, jazz, rock, and his own creative genie. The combination of accounts of psychedelic adventures, band events, musical ideas, etc., form a very pleasing whole. It ends quite beautifully with emotionally convincing portraits of Garcia's last days and Phil's own brush with mortality. Nice job, Phil!


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