S2E3: Aoxomoxoa

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” Juliet said to her Romeo. Although there may be sweeter slices of psychedelic pop than Aoxomoxoa out there, none of them are by the Grateful Dead. And that’s what makes this record special—it captures the sound of a young band coming into their own as songwriters while furthering their freak agenda. In this episode, Casey, Eduardo, and Kevin delve into the Dead’s final album of the original acid era. Aoxomoxoa captures the band at a creative crossroads: up to this point, they traded in mind-melting instrumental freakouts, malformed blues, and the occasional baroque hallucination. Now, with Robert Hunter as their in-house lyricist and a newfound compositional confidence, the Dead were positioned to blow even more of Warner Brothers’ money on a triptastic album that contains several Dead warhorses. The band is nearly ready to burst out of lysergic chrysalis as a kind of cowboy Mothra. But until they do, let’s admire the unusual but captivating cocoon known as Aoxomoxoa.


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S2E2: Anthem Of The Sun

What is the sound of thick air? This question is the koan at the chewy center of Anthem of the Sun, a sprawling psychedelic clusterf*ck originally released in July of 1968. According to legend, a young Bob Weir asked producer David Hassinger for this mysterious sound, which led to him quitting the project. Four studios and a mountain of spliced live reels later, and the Grateful Dead had their album. Well, a version of it, anyway. The band would go back and remix the record in 1972, in an attempt to make it more relatable to newer fans turned on to the then-recent Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty. But once you’ve “mixed it for the hallucinations,” it’s hard to get them out. Regardless of the edition, Anthem remains one of the Dead’s trippiest studio efforts—an awkward, insistent, and often thrilling record that sees the band at the peak of their lysergic powers. Or perhaps peak confusion. In this episode, we’ll consider the merits of Anthem of the Sun with a nod to the band’s rapid evolution. So climb on board as Captain Trips sets the controls for the heart of the Sun.


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S2E1: San Francisco’s Grateful Dead

For Season Two of Dead To Me, we’re taking a deep dive into the Grateful Dead’s studio albums. Or more specifically, we’re considering the original published sources of classic Dead repertoire. This distinction is important because not all of those tunes saw their initial appearance on official Dead records. Some, in fact, arrived on individual band members’ solo releases (which tended to feature contributions from many—if not all—core personnel). In addition to staples like American Beauty, Terrapin Station, From the Mars Hotel, Workingman’s Dead, and Anthem of the Sun, we’ll also cover Jerry's debut, Garcia, Bob Weir’s Ace, and Mickey Hart’s Rolling Thunder, along with—gasp!—official live releases that “substituted” for studio recordings (Skull and Roses, for example). We’re excited to explore the history and cultural context of these crucial audio artifacts. But most of all, we're psyched to riff on the music itself. Let’s start at the beginning with San Francisco’s Grateful Dead—a scruffy slice of pop-r&b with unmistakably psychedelic overtones that landed in March of 1967. Press play and get this trip underway!


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Episode 12: Lens Of The Dead - With Author and Photographer Rosie McGee
Photo ©Mary Ann Mayer, courtesy Rosie McGee

Photo ©Mary Ann Mayer, courtesy Rosie McGee

Some people have photographic memories. The rest of us have photographs. Well, that and music. Put the two together, and you don’t even need a souped-up DeLorean to travel time. Our final episode of Season One considers the photographic history of the Grateful Dead, but of course we talk about a lot more. Our special guest, Rosie McGee, was part of the Dead family going back to the first Acid Tests. Her photographic memoir, Dancing with the Dead, is a powerful recounting of an era that continues to fascinate and inspire. Rosie’s candid and intimate shots offer insights into a musical and social scene whose ripples are felt to this day, and her personal reminiscences are amusing, frank, and always spirited. Casey and Eduardo talk about how our memories are influenced by sound and image, and the tricks that time can play on the mind. Feed Your Head profiles another legendary shutterbug, Jay Blakesberg. See you next season!



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Episode 11: Zen Of The Dead - with Christopher Kelley of Psychedelic Sangha
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Thus, I have heard: the same 1960s scene that birthed the psychedelic movement and the Grateful Dead is also responsible for the flowering of Eastern spirituality in America. Open to new possibilities and weary of war and civic strife, a generation of seekers tuned in, turned on, and dropped out. A similar situation occurred in India some 2500 years ago in the time of Gautama Siddhartha Buddha, where a combination of economic boom and social instability established the conditions for the pursuit of individual and communal transcendence. And, like the hippie scene, some believe psychedelics played a role. This episode looks at these histories while diving deep into dharma—the nature of reality and the practices through which it may be ascertained. Real-world connections to the Dead abound, and there is also a common outlook in terms of interdependence, spontaneous creativity, community, and impermanence. Then there’s the lyrics, which display more than a passing awareness of Buddhist philosophy. Our special guest, Christopher Kelley Ph.D, is the founder and co-facilitator of Psychedelic Sangha—a community of meditators and psychonauts who aim to re-legitimize psychedelic exploration within Buddhist practice traditions. Eduardo and Casey discuss how the Dead relate to spirituality in general, and where it overlaps with Buddhist concepts and practices. And David Gans pops back in to premiere his new song! 



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Episode 10: Dead Air - with David Gans of The Golden Road
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Conventional wisdom has it that the Grateful Dead couldn’t get arrested on radio (they saved that for real life)—at least not until their late-career single “Touch of Grey” improbably saturated the airwaves in 1987. But as is often the case with the Dead, this is hardly the whole story. Actually, the Boys have a long history with radio, going back to when Jerry Garcia played folk music live on KPFA in the fall of 1962. And once the Dead formed, area stations like KSAN, KMPX, and KPFA broadcast the band’s concerts and brought in members for interviews. In the 1980s, music journalist and Deadhead David Gans inherited a show which came to be known as the Grateful Dead Hour. Syndicated across the country, and featuring choice nuggets from the band’s audio vault, the program aided scene coherence and and brought the Dead’s counterculture spirit to a new generation. Gans, who also hosts The Golden Road on SiriusXM’s Grateful Dead Channel, joins us to talk about his history with the band, along with his own creative exploits as a performing songwriter. Casey and Eduardo examine the evolution of broadcast media in America with ears on the Dead. Feed Your Head profiles the father of progressive radio, Tom “Big Daddy” Donahue. Don’t change that dial!



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Episode 9: Battle Of The Beards - with Arthur Adams of the Phenomenauts
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This is the goofiest idea for an episode ever. But the vibrations are real good. Casey had this crazy thought to compare the Grateful Dead and the Beach Boys—two acts that can legitimately claim the title “America’s Band.” On the surface, that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but think about it: besides having amazing beards, both bands represent aspects of mythological California. They also were innovators and experimenters with obsessive fans and no small amount of exuberance and pathos. Special guest Arthur Adams—a Bay area producer and director at The Clock Factory who also performs as the robot in the sci-fi / punk / new wave band The Phenomenauts—talks about how he got your host hooked on the Beach Boys, that one time the Boys jammed with the Boys, and more. Eduardo and Casey kick around the concept of America’s Band, and whether we need or even deserve one. Feed Your Head profiles erstwhile beardo and Deadhead Elvis Costello. Surf’s up!



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Episode 8: Dead Studies with - author Blair Jackson (Garcia: An American Life)
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Understanding the Grateful Dead isn’t just being able to rattle off setlists and songs, or knowing what kind of guitar picks Jerry Garcia preferred (Dunlop Adamas Graphite 2mm). It also requires familiarity with the situations and events that shaped the personalities behind the music. Show posters, letters, press clippings, and mountains of editorial content are available to any ‘Head who wants to take their Dead education to the next level. The Grateful Dead Archive at the University of California at Santa Cruz is the official repository of Dead history, much of which can be found online. There’s also no shortage of books, including scholarly analysis of the band and scene. But some of the most insightful observations come from outside of academia.

Our special guest Blair Jackson—author of Garcia: An American Life and former publisher of The Golden Road—has spent decades documenting the Dead through interviews with band members and thoughtful analysis of their art. His stuff is thrilling to read, and serves as a cornerstone of what has come to be known as Dead Studies. You won’t want to miss our conversation with Blair about his motivations for writing about the band. Casey and Eduardo also talk about why the Dead have become attractive to scholars, and Feed Your Head profiles original archivist and office manager Eileen Law. Check the show notes for a reading list!



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Episode 7: Dead As Company - with author and business professor Barry Barnes

Would you let a hippie run your business? How about a couple dozen of them, including road crew? Considering the Grateful Dead’s success, it might not be a such a bad idea. This episode looks at how a ragtag group of rockers who were intensely skeptical of the corporate world became true innovators in business. Our special guest is Dr. Barry Barnes, Professor Emeritus of Management at Nova Southeastern University, who literally wrote the book on this topic, Everything I Know About Business I Learned from the Grateful Dead. An old school ’Head, Barry is dialed into what makes the scene so special. Everybody is in it together—the band, the crew, and the fans. Call it a family. Call it a posse. Call it Dead as Company. That’s what we’re calling this episode, anyway. With Eduardo off globetrotting, Casey sits down with Kevin to argue about Greta Van Fleet, Grateful Dead tribute acts, and the idea of bands as brands. Feed Your Head profiles the ultimate Deadhead business, Ben & Jerry’s. Now we’ve got the munchies.  

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SET BREAK: Mapping the Grateful Genome

Welcome to set break. This “unofficial” episode of Dead to Me is a bit different than our usual presentation. Casey, Eduardo, and Kevin sit down together to riff on the Dead’s less-than-obvious influences on other acts across the decades. Mapping the Grateful Genome takes a deeper dive into some of the music we’ve already discussed, while introducing other tracks for your consideration. To sweeten the deal, we’ve launched the official Dead to Me playlist, which you can find at our website DeadtoMePod.com and on Spotify. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming with the next episode—consider this a heady appetizer before the main course. 

We’re part of the Osiris podcast network. Osiris is creating a community that connects people like you with podcasts and live experiences about artists and topics you love. To stay up to date on what we’re up to, visit our site and sign up for our newsletter. Relix Magazine is a media partner of Osiris.

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Episode 6: Dead Medicine - with CNN producer Maria Spinella

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And also the darkest… literally. The solstice is a time of reflection, when we acknowledge past struggles and victories, joys and sorrows. The holiday edition of Dead to Me explores how the Grateful Dead’s music helps us heal. Dead To Me Executive Producer Kevin Hill joins us to talk about how the band’s music helped him recover from a near-death experience. Later, Maria Spinella, executive producer of CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, reflects on the band’s transformative role in her life—from her days as a teenage concertgoer to the aftermath of profound personal loss. Feed Your Head profiles reluctant Deadhead Trixie Garcia, daughter of Jerry and the executor of his estate. At the end of the day, this show is about family and the powerful connections forged between human beings. Our frailties and hardships, as well as our grace and resilience. Oh, and also that fat guy with the beard.

Good tidings from all of us at Dead to Me, and we’ll see you in the New Year.

We’re part of the Osiris podcast network. Osiris is creating a community that connects people like you with podcasts and live experiences about artists and topics you love. To stay up to date on what we’re up to, visit our site and sign up for our newsletter. Relix Magazine is a media partner of Osiris.

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Episode 5: How To Dead - with Neal Casal (Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Circles Around the Sun)

We’ve already established that are so many roads to Dead fandom. But with decades’ worth of music and lore to sift through, cultivating a deeper appreciation can be a challenge. This episode looks at the tools we use to dig the Dead, and how context is key to finding your seat on the bus. Ed and Casey examine the band’s online presence from the days of dial-up to our current era of 24/7 access, along with the digital platforms that make it easier to get your Dead on. Here’s a heavy trip: at some point in the not-too-distant future, the people who made this music—and everyone who saw the original band live—will be dust and bones. Is access a valid surrogate for experience? Will Dead culture perpetuate when the legacy is archive-only? Later, Casey gets down with Neal Casal, guitarist for the Chris Robinson Brotherhood and Circles Around the Sun. A thoughtful and engaging player and thinker, Neal has also collaborated with Cass McCombs’ Skiffle Players, Beachwood Sparks, Phil Lesh, and Bob Weir. He shares tips on where to dive in and offers a heartfelt account of his own Dead devotion. Plus a Feed Your Head profile on the biggest Deadhead around: the internet.

We’re part of the Osiris podcast network. Osiris is creating a community that connects people like you with podcasts and live experiences about artists and topics you love. To stay up to date on what we’re up to, visit our site and sign up for our newsletter. Relix Magazine is a media partner of Osiris.

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Neal Casal of Circles Around The Sun and The Chris Robinson Brotherhood

Neal Casal of Circles Around The Sun and The Chris Robinson Brotherhood

Episode 4: Punk Is Dead - with Michael Brunetto (Maritime Pilot)

At first blush, the Grateful Dead have nothing to do with punk and metal. Or do they? Ed and Casey look at the surprising ways the Dead connect to other musical movements on the underground and elsewhere. Have the walls separating punk, hardcore, metal and jam finally come down? We brought in two special guests to help us investigate. Jay Coyle is the founder of Music Geek Services and an instructor at Berklee Online. He talks about the Dead’s trailblazing direct-to-fan efforts and how DIY became the going rate in today’s music marketplace. Michael Brunetto is a self-professed “metal kid” and musician who shares his experiences as a longtime Deadhead who also loves the heavier stuff. Plus another Feed Your Head, this time featuring punk rock icon and Deadhead Henry Rollins.

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Episode 3: Dead Politics - with Robert Costa (Washington Post)

We don’t blame you if you’re burned out on politics. The lead up to the 2018 midterm elections has been relentless. This episode is a great way to decompress while staying plugged in. Special guest Robert Costa—national political reporter for the Washington Post and moderator of Washington Week on PBS—talks about music, culture and political movements along with his love of all things Dead. Casey and Ed examine the Dead’s influence on politicians and pundits across the political spectrum and challenge the conventional wisdom regarding the band’s apolitical outlook. All that plus a Feed Your Head profile on news icon and Deadhead Walter Cronkite. Don’t forget to vote!

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Episode 2: The Evil Dead - with Jason George (taper, horror buff)

People tend to think of the Grateful Dead as a hippie band spreading sunshine and light. While the good vibes are for real, there’s also an otherworldly darkness in throughout their story. For the Halloween edition of Dead to Me, Casey and Ed take a look at everything from the occult ambience in the early scene to the band’s hair-raising improvisations. Special guest Jason George, a longtime taper and horror buff, talks about Jerry Garcia’s love of the macabre and how the Dead embraced the uncanny. Feed Your Head profiles the academics who conducted mass-ESP experiments at six Dead concerts in 1971. Happy Halloween!

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Episode 1: Missing The Bus - with artist Susan Norton

How does a Dead-skeptic become a Dead enthusiast? For host Casey Rae, the transformation was gradual but profound. Co-host Eduardo Nunes offers insights on his own path to Headdom, while visual artist and live music veteran Susan Norton describes how the culture within and around the Dead affected her creative trajectory. Plus Feed Your Head, a micro-profile of unusual and interesting Deadheads—this edition featuring mythologian Joseph Campbell.

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