Dennis McNally - book author
Dennis McNally is the author of books: A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead, Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, The Beat Generation, And America, Jerry on Jerry: The Unpublished Jerry Garcia Interviews, On Highway 61: Music, Race, and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom, Relix, the Book: The Grateful Dead Experience: 30 Years of Mind-Melting Art, Interviews, Anecdotes and More!, Fearsome Edifice, Sacred Space, Grateful Dead: The Illustrated Trip, Summer of Love: Art, Fashion, and Rock and Roll
From 1965 to 1995, the Grateful Dead flourished as one of the most beloved, unusual, and accomplished musical entities to ever grace American culture. The creative synchronicity among Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, and Ron “Pigpen” McKernan exploded out of the artistic ferment of the early sixties’ roots and folk scene, providing the soundtrack for the Dionysian revels of the counterculture. To those in the know, the Dead was an ongoing tour de force: a band whose constant commitment to exploring new realms lay at the center of a thirty-year journey through an ever-shifting array of musical, cultural, and mental landscapes.
Dennis McNally, the band’s historian and publicist for more than twenty years, takes readers back through the Dead’s history in A Long Strange Trip. In a kaleidoscopic narrative, McNally not only chronicles their experiences in a fascinatingly detailed fashion, but veers off into side trips on the band’s intricate stage setup, the magic of the Grateful Dead concert experience, or metaphysical musings excerpted from a conversation among band members. He brings to vivid life the Dead’s early days in late-sixties San Francisco–an era of astounding creativity and change that reverberates to this day. Here we see the group at its most raw and powerful, playing as the house band at Ken Kesey’s acid tests, mingling with such legendary psychonauts as Neal Cassady and Owsley “Bear” Stanley, and performing the alchemical experiments, both live and in the studio, that produced some of their most searing and evocative music. But McNally carries the Dead’s saga through the seventies and into the more recent years of constant touring and incessant musical exploration, which have cemented a unique bond between performers and audience, and created the business enterprise that is much more a family than a corporation.
Written with the same zeal and spirit that the Grateful Dead brought to its music for more than thirty years, the book takes readers on a personal tour through the band’s inner circle, highlighting its frenetic and very human faces. A Long Strange Trip is not only a wide-ranging cultural history, it is a definitive musical biography.
Jack Kerouac--"King of the Beats," unwitting catalyst for the '60s counterculture, groundbreaking author--was a complex and compelling man: a star athlete with a literary bent; a spontaneous writer vilified by the New Critics but adored by a large, youthful readership; a devout Catholic but aspiring Buddhist; a lover of freedom plagued by crippling alcoholism.
Desolate Angel follows Kerouac from his childhood in the mill town of Lowell, Massachusetts, to his early years at Columbia where he met Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Neal Cassady, beginning a four-way friendship that would become a sociointellectual legend. In rich detail and with sensitivity, Dennis McNally recounts Kerouac's frenetic cross-country journeys, his experiments with drugs and sexuality, his travels to Mexico and Tangier, the sudden fame that followed the publication of On the Road, the years of literary triumph, and the final near-decade of frustration and depression.
Desolate Angel is a harrowing, compassionate portrait of a man and an artist set in an extraordinary social context. The metamorphosis of America from the Great Depression to the Kennedy administration is not merely the backdrop for Kerouac's life but is revealed to be an essential element of his art . . . for Kerouac was above all a witness to his exceptional times.
Released by the Jerry Garcia Family and made available to the public for the first time, these are some of the most candid, intimate interviews with Jerry Garcia ever published. Here, Garcia speaks openly about everything from growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area and his first encounters with early R&B to his thoughts on songwriting, LSD, the Beats and Neal Cassady, government, movies, and more. Illustrated with family photographs, ephemera, and Jerry's artwork, Jerry on Jerry presents uniquely poignant, unguarded, and astute moments, showing a side of Jerry that even his biggest fans have not known.
The book begins with America’s first great social critic, Henry David Thoreau, and his fundamental source of social philosophy:---his profound commitment to freedom, to abolitionism and to African-American culture. Continuing with Mark Twain, through whom we can observe the rise of minstrelsy, which he embraced, and his subversive satirical masterpiece Huckleberry Finn. While familiar, the book places them into a newly articulated historical reference that shines new light and reveals a progression that is much greater than the sum of its individual parts.
As the first post-Civil War generation of black Americans came of age, they introduced into the national culture a trio of musical forms—ragtime, blues, and jazz— that would, with their derivations, dominate popular music to this day. Ragtime introduced syncopation and become the cutting edge of the modern 20th century with popular dances. The blues would combine with syncopation and improvisation and create jazz. Maturing at the hands of Louis Armstrong, it would soon attract a cluster of young white musicians who came to be known as the Austin High Gang, who fell in love with black music and were inspired to play it themselves. In the process, they developed a liberating respect for the diversity of their city and country, which they did not see as exotic, but rather as art. It was not long before these young white rebels were the masters of American pop music – big band Swing.
As Bop succeeded Swing, and Rhythm and Blues followed, each had white followers like the Beat writers and the first young rock and rollers. Even popular white genres like the country music of Jimmy Rodgers and the Carter Family reflected significant black influence. In fact, the theoretical separation of American music by race is not accurate. This biracial fusion achieved an apotheosis in the early work of Bob Dylan, born and raised at the northern end of the same Mississippi River and Highway 61 that had been the birthplace of much of the black music he would study.
As the book reveals, the connection that began with Thoreau and continued for over 100 years was a cultural evolution where, at first individuals, and then larger portions of society, absorbed the culture of those at the absolute bottom of the power structure, the slaves and their descendants, and realized that they themselves were not free.
This encyclopedic book tells the real story of the band from childhood to the present day, incorporating rare photography that captures pivotal moments, both large and small. Grateful Dead: The Illustrated Trip features seminal posters, memorabilia, and ephemera; personal essays that give revealing insights into life in the band and on the road; and all the facts — biographies of the band members, all the albums and key songs, and every tour date ever played.
Grateful Dead: The Illustrated Trip is the definitive illustrated biography for die-hard Deadheads and new fans alike.
With essays by Victoria Binder, Dennis McNally, and Joel Selvin.
Published in association with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
de Young, San Francisco: April 8–August 20, 2017