“Confessions of a Dead Head”

I am reading a book called Confessions of a Dead Head by a guy who calls himself The Starburst Commander. It’s a quick read, and I am enjoying the hell out of it so far. He got on the bus in 1974 and drove a van called The Orange Barrel. Freaks of a certain vintage will recognize the reference.

This isn’t a deeply analytical memoir – just the warmly told story of some wonderful times. I’d like to see a hundred more books like this, ’cause every one of us has a similar set of experiences.

Here’s an excerpt that I especially enjoyed:

Dentist and I love Stella Blue and once listened to a live bootleg version of it more than 30 times in a row. We were on a construction site off of St. Stephen’s Road in Lafayette, CA. This was back in the cassette tape days, and by replay number six we had the timing down on the rewind.

Stella Blue is the perfect combination of brilliant musical and lyrical writing. This song is Garcia and Hunter in their element and at their very best. There is not one wasted word. Every line, every verse sets us up for the next line and the next verse. And when Jerry finishes it up on his guitar, we have a genuine masterpiece. It is as perfect as a song can be, and Hunter’s lyrics are a true reality check….

“Dust off those rusty strings just one more time.” It gets me every time. “Gonna make ‘em shine” – that last hope of hopes. it is beautiful, but starkly lonely. It seems a brutally, pessimistically optimistic song.

Then – “There’s nothing you can hold for very long… Stella BLue.” Fuck me four times sideways. Like a lamb to the slaughter I follow every word. My emotions are pulled n every direction. Am I sadly happy or happily sad? This song leaves me longing for the knowledge of something I don’t quite understand, and Jerry’s solo continues to take me apart before he slowly puts me back together again. The pauses between his notes here are perfect evidence of his musical genius. Style over speed, quality over quantity. Never a blur, always succinctly clear. I find myself anticipating each note and the wait is sweet.

You can read more about it, and order a copy, here. I recommend it highly, and I do mean highly. I get all molecular just thinking about it.

8 Responses to ““Confessions of a Dead Head””

  1. Arnoldo says:

    Thanks for the review of the “Confessions of a Deadhead” David!
    I’ll be interviewing The Starburst Commander on my radio show on KOWS 107.3 or streaming at http://www.kows.fm on Friday 4th. December from 7-9pm. He will be bringing along some of his Dead rarities to play during the interview.
    the best,
    Arnoldo

  2. Terri says:

    I just finished reading Confessions of a Dead Head – and it was a great and easy read! The book certainly illustrates what a dedicated and well-versed fan the Commander is. I was caught up in each venue with him and his friends and learned about a “world” I had known very little about. I would recommend this book to just about everyone who grew up in the 60′s & 70′s — music was an integral part of our daily living – and the Commander’s book nail on the Head!

  3. Donna says:

    For me it was Wake of the Flood and an agreement with my Brother that I’d go to a show if he would just “shut up already” With that decision my journey began.

    The magic of the music and our Community is a gift that follows us Further on. The Starburst Commander has told his story and it is so heartfelt and fun. Those years were the best times I ever had; you will be taken back to enjoy your ride again. This is a great read !

    Not Fade Away

  4. Les says:

    “Confessions of a Dead Head” is a great book. This book made me feel good. I was enlightened by the stories the author told because of the magical moments and little miracles that happened. It reminded me how to appreciate more of the magical moments in my own life. I love this book and would highly recommend that everyone read it.

  5. Michael J. says:

    This is a great book! I laughed out loud with virtually every story, and cried toward the end too. Just ordered five copies for holiday gifts. Totally agree with David — would love to see a hundred books like this.

  6. [...] please see my previous post, which includes a nice [...]

  7. Sherman says:

    Well, I just re read the Commander’s book ( its an easy fun read, find out for yourself) and got a kick out of it as I already knew I would. It’s fun and interesting and if you’re a Deadhead, it is so cool to reaffirm how we all feel about Jerry and the boys (and girl, almost sorry Donna). The Commander’s perspective is unusual and unique and I really wish I could say it as wll as he does.If you are not a Deadhead, read the book and get a taste of what our obsessive compulsive Dead culture is all about. It is real love for an almost tangible sound and outlook, and not fade away. Get it… full of insight and Dead concert adventure.

  8. [...] is the pseudonym of the author of a delightful memoir titled Confessions of a Dead Head. I posted some kind words and an excerpt a while back. The interview you’ll hear in this week’s program was broadcast live on [...]

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