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Workingman's Dead (Paperback) (Buzz Poole)
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Released in 1970, the Grateful Dead's Workingman's Dead is cold-water-shock departure from the Acid Test feedback madness of the late '60s material, exemplified by songs like "St. Stephen" and "Dark Star." Rather than relying on chemically-fuelled guitar licks and spacey improvisational explorations, this album is the first listen to what would become an extensive songbook informed and inspired by dusty, rough and tumble American history and world mythologies, charting the long, winding path to self-discovery and individual empowerment.
The eight songs that comprise Workingman's Dead will serve as points of entry from which forms a fully-rendered portrait of an exceptional musical recording, both in terms of the songs but also, and perhaps more importantly, how these songs speak to late twentieth-century America. Buzz Poole considers the attendant cultural and political anxieties that resulted from the idealism of the '60s giving way to the uncomfortable realities of the '70s, making a case for the relevance of this music nearly forty-five years after it was recorded. Based on research, interviews, and personal experience, the book will probe the paradox at the heart of the band's appeal: the Grateful Dead was about much more than music, though it was really just about the music.