Searching for the Sound: My Life With the Grateful Dead
by Phil Lesh
Little, Brown, 338 pp., $25.95
"Jerry's still dead," my daughter is quick to admonish her hopelessly unhip dad, but that fact has hardly dampened the voracious appetite of "Deadicated" fans for more, be it artwork, tapes from the vault, or, in this case, a new book. What makes this literary event unique is that bassist Phil Lesh remains the only member of the Grateful Dead to put pen to paper. As an original, 40-year band veteran, his unparalleled insider perspective, along with his sly, ironic humor, makes for an insightful and entertaining read. The book is front-ended to put an emphasis on the Bay area band's formative years: hanging with Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters, the various Acid Tests, the heyday of the San Francisco scene, and the early years of touring. Post-1975, only the Dead's trip to Egypt to play at the pyramids is given appropriately ample space. Lesh writes plenty about his relationship with Jerry Garcia and his successful efforts to overcome years of alcoholism with the help of his wife, Jill. Lesh is at his best when articulating his unwavering belief that the Grateful Dead's ecstatic, exploratory music and its inherent spiritual communing can be an engine to transform human consciousness.