10 Best Music Books of 2016

From the stage to the page: The year's best memoirs, essay collections and more

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'Heads: A Biography of Psychedelic America,' by Jesse Jarnow
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'Heads: A Biography of Psychedelic America,' by Jesse Jarnow

Music, history and psychopharmacology blend together in Heads, wherein Rolling Stone contributor Jesse Jarnow describes in colorful and scrupulously researched detail how psychedelic music fused with actual psychedelics to create a ceaselessly regenerating "hip economy" that persists to this day. Jarnow focuses on the Grateful Dead, whose Acid Tests-rooted sounds provided the alembic for a chaotically, and sometimes neurologically, connected network of fans, tape traders and LSD distributors. He draws a map of demimonde contingencies spreading from San Francisco to the verdant hills of Vermont, stopping along the way to contemplate the Brotherhood of Eternal Light, Terrence and Dennis McKenna, artist Keith Haring, a Columbia fraternity that used LSD in its hazing ritual, the Spinners cult of ecstatic dancers, DJ David Mancuso's LSD-fueled Manhattan loft parties and countless other major and minor manifestations of psychedelics in the land of the freaks. It's a head trip and then some. R.G.

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