Mr. Conners’ story covers only the last 8 years of “The Scene,” and then only from the eyes of a self-confessed middle-class suburban white Gen-X teenager. But with that self-confession duly expressed, I found the book wonderful and perceptive for such a neophyte deadhead. It does contain, in places, hypocritical rationalizations, but not nearly as many as you would expect from a newly obsessed young fan. (Weren't most all of us deadheads that at one time?)
The book is a surprisingly quick read. I read it in a single evening. But that doesn't imply he cut any corners in his writing. He does an excellent job of not hiding the ugly among the beauty of his experiences while growing from typical suburban Gen-X’er to full-blown tour obsessed deadhead... and finally to what so many of us have become.
I know from personal experience that trying to describe the experience of the deadhead transformation to a ‘normal,’ is like trying to describe an acid trip to someone who has never tripped, or colors to someone who has been blind from birth. Mr. Conners does a much better job of it than I ever could with that task. My usual answer was “It’s an eclectic bunch of Americans celebrating the sharing of freedom, the sharing of really good raw music, and the celebration of the sharing of the sharing, simply because we could.” which in many ways explains it, but in no way describes it. “Growing Up Dead” does a rare excellent job of the description of the deadhead growth experience for many, but certainly not all.
I feel this book is a must for anyone’s “The Scene” historical library shelf, even though it only covers the last eight years of a thirty+ year American phenomena, it covers the introspectional emotions of it beautifully. This is not a history of the band, nor of the music itself, (even though he does cover some of its historical background I wasn't aware of,) but it is informative in its description of the reality of it, and I think Mr. Conners has done an excellent and entertaining job of it in “Growing Up Dead.”