Stanford Continuing Studies Offering a Course on the History & Music of the Grateful Dead, Taught by David Gans: Starts on Monday, January 22

Image via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

A quick heads up: On Mon­day, Stan­ford Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies will kick off an online course called Psy­che­delia and Groove: The Music and Cul­ture of the Grate­ful Dead. Taught by David Gans (author of Play­ing in the Band: An Oral and Visu­al Por­trait of the Grate­ful Dead), the course got a nice shout out from drum­mer Mick­ey Hart on Insta­gram. Open to any adult, the course descrip­tion reads:

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. 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.

Again, the course starts on Mon­day, Jan­u­ary 22. Tuition is $405. You can enroll here.

Stan­ford Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies also offers many oth­er cours­es online, across many dis­ci­plines, at a rea­son­able price. Check out the cat­a­logue here.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Stream a Mas­sive Archive of Grate­ful Dead Con­certs from 1965–1995

The Grate­ful Dead Movie: Watch It Free Online

How the Grate­ful Dead’s “Wall of Sound”–a Mon­ster, 600-Speak­er Sound System–Changed Rock Con­certs & Live Music For­ev­er

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Comments (12)
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  • Jonathan says:

    Imag­ine pay­ing the tuition at Stan­ford and this is what they’re teach­ing. God help us

    • OC says:

      Jonathan, It’s a con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion course for adults that costs $400. As men­tioned in the post, it’s for adults. Ergo not under­grad­u­ates. Good job read­ing close­ly.


  • Rod says:

    That’s hilar­i­ous!

  • Rod says:

    I can’t edit my reply. It was in response to Bob😍

  • Lou Stools says:

    Syn­op­sis sounds good as long as you keep the busi­ness model…..or lack of it out of the course.

    Sam Cut­ler : The Grate­ful Dead are dumb… They make fab­u­lous music, won­der­ful, amaz­ing music… When it came to busi­ness deci­sions, stu­pid.

  • Dave L says:

    Sam — I aaaume you mean because they allowed so much tap­ing. I guess you could say that but I think in gen­er­al they’ve done pret­ty well pro­mot­ing their brand. Even though much of it was to show appre­ci­a­tion to their ded­i­cat­ed fans.

  • Celeste says:

    Lol! Per­fect!!

  • Rachel says:

    I think it’s brillant.greatful dead is a true piece of Amer­i­can cul­ture for 50 years

  • Christopher Robin Byers says:

    Can I get a fee waiv­er?

  • Daniel tracey says:

    I’ll take vaca­tion time for this course first show for me Rfk 1986 Tom pet­ty BoB Dil­lon Grate­ful Dead 103 degrees in sta­di­um girl friend dressed in tight geor­dash jeans & cow­boy boots pissed as I danced in mud­dy infield with the hip­pies & under­cov­er dosed as it were she left the show I had to hitch hike home to New free­dom Pa.changed me for­ev­er ✌️

  • Tom f says:

    Re busi­ness mod­el… horse­hock­ey.
    Boys seemed ever inter­est­ed in cre­at­ing hear(here) and now music to be expe­ri­enced and shared. Wit­ness all the stu­dio albums they cranked out! Folks around them did pret­ty well w their busi­ness­es, tho.

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