"We'll embark on a sonic journey through the band's diverse and ever-evolving music": Stanford University is offering a course studying the music and culture of the Grateful Dead

Grateful Dead photographed outside a motel
(Image credit: Roger Ressmeyer)

Grateful Dead fans wishing to learn more about the band's music and cultural impact can now sign up for an online course taught under the auspices of Stanford University. 

The six-week online course, entitled Psychedelia and Groove: The Music and Culture of the Grateful Dead, will comprise of six 50-minute sessions, and will be taught by musician and journalist David Gans, producer and host of the nationally syndicated radio show Grateful Dead Hour and co-host of Tales From The Golden Road, a two-hour talk show on SiriusXM’s Grateful Dead Channel. Gans is also the co-author of the book This Is All a Dream We Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead.

"Grateful Dead music is collaborative and improvisational," says Gans. "Accordingly, I have invited guest speakers to join me in at least five of the classes. I've been an oral historian and a radio interviewer for more than 40 years; I have learned that conversation is a vastly more effective mode of presentation than lecturing."

The course will trace the Grateful Dead's evolution, beginning with the band's formation and the early San Francisco music scene. It'll also focus on their approach to touring, their cultural impact on society, their connections to art, literature, and social change, and the culture of their 'Deadhead' followers. 

The course also promises to take students on "a sonic journey through the band's diverse and ever-evolving musical catalogue", allowing them to "dissect the distinctive blend of rock, folk, blues, and improvisation that defined the Grateful Dead's sound."

Students are advised to listen to Live Dead, Grateful Dead (Skull & Roses), Europe 72 volumes 1 and 2, Reckoning, Dead Set and Without A Net before beginning the course. 

The course begins on January 22, and costs $405. Registration is open now

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.