Home Before Daylight: My Life on the Road with the "Grateful Dead" Hardcover – 29 Apr 2004
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No, Steve Parish does not write with the sophistication and finesse of, say, Blair Jackson (still the best writer on the GD scene), it's the emotional directness that separates this book from many of the rest. True, there are a few minor inaccuracies with times and dates (believe me, you've seen worse). But it's the overall emotional quality of Parrish's stories and insights, for me at least, that I found more compelling than some of the other, more polished works that have come out. And don't let the plain-spoken nature of this book fool you: There are numerous observations, anecdotes and insights (I wish there were more), that only Steve Parrish could deliver (the meeting with Garcia and Sinatra is a riot).
So for those of us who loved the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia, Phil, Bobby and the rest of the crew, and for whom the emotional quality of the band mattered (and matters) more than anything else, Parrish's effort is one of the better ones there at this time. Recommended.
I too have read every book about the band and was looking foward to reading this book for months. I read the entire book in 2 days. There was some new insight into what a great guy Weir is. How Weir hated the Hells Angels. How Mickey was the most difficult memeber of the band. There is also some more sad confirmation of what a Heroin addict Garcia was for most of the last 25 years of his life. From Parish's inside position with Garcia and the band there could have been another 300 pages of good stories. Don't blame Parish for how poorly written this book is though, blame his co-author Joe Layden who wrote the Chuck Zito Hells Angels book. Another piece of quickly written but entertaining trash.
Steve was uniquely situated to both participate in and observe the Grateful Dead as a band and as an institution. His perspective allows us to catch glimpses of the real action behind the scene that was often the basis for the magic (or sometimes lack of it)in the on-stage performances.
Of far greater impact to me, however, was Steve's willingness to share his personal travails, passions, successes and failures over the past 30 years. He reveals one very involved, very sensitive and very insightful man's interaction with the power and impact of rock and roll on people in and around the scene, both the famous and sometimes the infamous. In telling his own story, Steve often challenges conventional and traditional assumptions about who are really "good guys" and who are "bad".
He shows us the humanity that drove the unfortunately unrealistic desire of Jerry and others to make it only "all about the music". Through his unparallelled access Steve is able to the efforts of those in and around the Band to enjoy normal lives and meaningful interpersonal relationships while fending off, or all too often sucumbing to the dangers of hard drugs, greed and the many other down-sides of "fame" in 20th Century America.
He accomplishes all of this with humility and well-placed humor. I have read many rock and roll biographies of both individuals and bands, and I strongly recommend Steve's book as offfering a truly "one of a kind" perspective.