Mother American Night

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Boxorain
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Mother American Night

Post by Boxorain » Sat Jun 23, 2018 1:35 pm

I’m hesitant in writing a review about anything because inevitably it will be misleading as it only represents a singular viewpoint...but here goes:

First and foremost, enjoyed the read. I wouldn’t have kept reading if the interest wasn’t there. Greenfield did a great job keeping each chapter short and sweet. Basically every 3 page chapter is a chapter of Barlow’s life. Man...did that cat get around. Lived nine lives for sure. In typical fashion of successful people, he got involved in subject matter he knew absolutely nothing about but his passion and confidence always led the way. He wasn’t afraid to learn, wasn’t afraid to lead and wasn’t afraid to enter uncharted waters...hence people followed. He was a great example of how to pursue one’s dreams rather than wallow in doubt.

Now with that said, the greatest risk takers usually have the greatest degree of self doubt...they just use that doubt as a driving force rather than an anchor. JBP was no exception and did this on so many levels...quite inspiring.

The book is filled with many interesting stories and insight, especially about Bobby and Jerry. I’ve always had the sense that John wanted Bob to acknowledge him a bit more, be accepted by the band as a whole a bit more and in general, just feel the love a bit more. The book only confirmed this to me. I think he yearned for a general loving acceptance from the band that he never did receive. Hence, he’s not hesitant to voice his opinion about other people’s opinions within the circle. That’s dangerous territory. There’s a few of his opinions voiced that I didn’t feel necessary. There’s a few jabs directly aimed at Bobby that seemed unnecessary...yet he felt needed to be aired. There’s a strange undercurrent of homosexuality that he weaves throughout the book and always felt the need to mention that Bobby was nearby. For instance, he’d tell a story and say something along the lines of, “I went to Bobby’s house and he was hanging with his gay friend”....just not sure why one’s sexuality matters unless it’s pertinent to the story. He also mentioned when they wrote Mexicali Blues that he went to Mexico with Bobby and a gay man who ended up being Jon McIntire. Later saying he personally hooked up with Jon only to conclude that it wasn’t his thing. Fine story but I got the feeling he was trying to tell a larger story within a story...without being the one to actually tell the story. This undercurrent was felt throughout the book. Good piece of writing to achieve this, just felt a little out of place and unnecessary to the whole. Similar to the darkness he portrayed around Jerry. The first story he shares about their encounter is when he was eyeballing Mountain Girl (to which he denied), Jerry noticed and basically forever gave him a degree of the cold shoulder. His further writing in regards to Jerry felt transparent to me and was just a reflection of how Jerry felt about him. Another part of the story that appeared a bit calculated.

In a weird self defeating yet self promoting way, I got the sense he really wanted everyone to know just how important John Perry Barlow is and was to the world. A scholar’s scholar. The lack of humility always leaves some residue behind. Yet, another quality that a high percentage of leaders seem to possess. The one’s at the top of their field usually have a healthy stroke of arrogance...I think he was no different.

Overall, glad I read it but I wouldn’t put it at the very top of recommended GD reading. A story that should be read but not necessarily a book that would be picked up for a second time anytime soon. But make no mistake, Very Very thankful for all the words, music and vision...GD world wouldn’t have been the same without him.
Last edited by Boxorain on Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:32 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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KC.Jones
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Re: Mother American Night

Post by KC.Jones » Sat Jun 23, 2018 1:56 pm

Thanks for the well thought out review. I definitely want to read this at some point in time.
You ain't gonna learn what you don't wanna know

perry
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Re: Mother American Night

Post by perry » Tue Jun 26, 2018 1:22 pm

thanks, picked it up for my upcoming vaca. Does he cover the fact one of his daughter's is Weir's spitting image? :whistle

bones
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Re: Mother American Night

Post by bones » Tue Jun 26, 2018 1:36 pm

perry wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 1:22 pm
thanks, picked it up for my upcoming vaca. Does he cover the fact one of his daughter's is Weir's spitting image? :whistle
i just couldnt get over that either...
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Boxorain
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Re: Mother American Night

Post by Boxorain » Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:04 pm

He didn’t...but he did talk about wanting to immediately have more kids at his first was born :think
Was free loving / sharing back then :hop
It is uncanny
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KC.Jones
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Re: Mother American Night

Post by KC.Jones » Wed Oct 10, 2018 5:42 pm

Just finished this book. It was a fantastic read and I recommend it to all. I don't have a lengthy review to write, but what I can say is I came for more knowledge on the Grateful Dead and left with that and several great life lessons and new philosophies on life that I intend to use for the rest of my life. Specifically what he writes about accepting love. Great book. Read it if you haven't yet.
You ain't gonna learn what you don't wanna know

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touch of rain
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Re: Mother American Night and Fare Thee Well

Post by touch of rain » Sun Nov 18, 2018 12:16 pm

I read Mother American Night and then Fare Thee Well. Obviously very different books, although they do overlap at points. Enjoyed both of them because ... well, I enjoy reading anything about the Dead. :)

Barlow had a very interesting life and he sure covered a lot of different sorts of ground and it's a great insight into how he landed in all these different arenas (the Dead, ranching, internet freedom, Dick Cheney!) While we naturally look at him thru the lens of the band, his work in particular with the Electronic Freedom Foundation, has left a lasting legacy. (ah, alliteration :lol: )

One of the reasons he's maybe considered in some circles as not as integral to the band as Hunter is that he wasn't really based in SF and for long years at a time (like the 19 he spent sorting out the ranch after his father's death) was probably not around that much, certainly not on a day to day basis.

Lots of enjoyable insights and anecdotes about the guys. My favorite (I tried to find it again but couldn't) was a throwaway comment he made about why writing with Bobby sometimes annoyed him - because Bobby kept trying to add extra syllables into Barlow's lyrics. Sounds like Bobby!

A bit of an aside here: After I read the book, I was playing around on you tube and I came across a video of I guess it was his wake, with Bobby singing Cassidy. I'm not very familiar with the ins and outs of wakes, but I have to say I found it both unsettling to watch and at the same time a totally appropriate send off for the man.

Fare Thee Well is an entirely different beast but I found it quite informative in certain aspects. I was living in the UK for most of the late 90s, 2000s, so a lot of the musical ground covered I was unfamiliar with. Good stuff covering the various tours, formations, etc.

A lot of the attention has been focused on how certain people, particularly Phil and his wife, were portrayed in this book. Yes, he does not come out well but at various points neither do the rest of them, which is no big surprise considering they are human just like the rest of us. All part of the long strange trip they've been on together for more than half a century (half a century!) which has clearly had all sorts of ups and downs, but has formed bonds that can't and won't be easily broken.

Yes, the busybody part of me did enjoy the insights, but beyond that, it's all a bit "so what?" They're still here and they're still making music and hopefully will continue to do so long into the future, in whatever configuration.

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dr bakes
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Re: Mother American Night

Post by dr bakes » Sun Nov 18, 2018 2:19 pm

You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know

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