Psychedelia and Groove: The Music and Culture of the Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead's groundbreaking fusion of music, counterculture, and community engagement forged an enduring legacy that transcends generations while shaping the evolution of music and cultural expression. Fresh off the farewell performance of Dead & Company in San Francisco in July, this course invites students to delve into the phenomenon that is the Grateful Dead through a captivating exploration of the band's history, music, and cultural impact. The course will start by tracing the band’s evolution, from its humble beginnings to its legendary status as one of the most influential bands in music history. We will explore the band's formation, the early San Francisco music scene, its unique approach to touring, and the various eras of its existence. We’ll next embark on a sonic journey through the band's diverse and ever-evolving musical catalog. Through guided listening and engaging discussion, students will dissect the distinctive blend of rock, folk, blues, and improvisation that defined the Grateful Dead's sound. Finally, we’ll examine the band’s cultural impact on society, diving into the band's connection to art, literature, and social change, as well as its unique fan culture and the phenomenon of the "Deadhead." By the end of the course, students will have a well-rounded appreciation for the roots, struggles, and milestones that shaped the Grateful Dead’s trajectory, an understanding of its profound impact on music and culture, and insight into a legacy that still resonates deeply today. Guest speakers for this course will include Steve Silberman, who was featured in the documentary Long Strange Trip and is a regular voice on the Good Ol’ Grateful Deadcast. He is also a co-author of Skeleton Key: A Dictionary for Deadheads.

David Gans
Musician; Author; Radio Producer and Host

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Online, instructor-led
Jan 22 - Mar 4, 2024
Stanford Continuing Studies