Lately it occurs to me/ What a long strange trip it’s been.” Being a fan of the music of the Grateful Dead was certainly a unique experience and author Gene Sculatti captures what it was like from that angle in a new ebook called ‘Dark Stars and Anti-Matter: 40 Years of Loving, Leaving and Making Up with the Music of the Grateful Dead.’

As you can guess from the title, Sculatti wasn’t your typical Deadhead in many ways. The music of the band was in and out of his life over the decades, but there was a connection that was never broken. As Sculatti relates in the book, “they were always there.”

‘Dark Stars’ is a love letter, not only to the band which he recalls, was described in their early days as “the ugliest band in the world,” but also, the overall experience of being a music fan. Sculatti notes that we can often assemble a timeline of our life experiences based on the albums that we’ve listened to. Perhaps as the years pass, the number of artists that we keep up with begin to dwindle, but as Sculatti writes, “we never forget those who made strong first impressions on us.”

That was his experience with the Grateful Dead, which he consumed for the first time in 1966 at the Avalon Ballroom. Sculatti witnessed a group that combined a melting pot of different musical styles into one individual presentation, pouring out “audio rocket fuel” for all in attendance to enjoy.

As a Beach Boys fan, the Dead’s imperfect harmonies should have been an immediate turn-off for Sculatti, but the “magnificent roar” he was hearing was something that he couldn’t look away from. From there, he made it his goal to see the band every chance that he got and in time with that, his own life began to progress.

‘Dark Stars’ takes us through that life, with the musical threads of the Dead helping to tie it all together. Sculatti’s experiences will eventually bring him directly in contact with the band. Even as his passion for the band’s music begins to subside, connections still remain – his job in the record industry finds him working at their old record label.

The career and history of the Grateful Dead and the way Sculatti reconciles that with his own life makes ‘Dark Stars’ an engaging read and it should be noted that it is a quick one.

‘Dark Stars’ is part of ‘Single Notes,’ a new series of short ebooks from Rhino that is a godsend for those who miss the liner notes experience of reading a good think piece dedicated to either a specific album, or in this case, what it feels like to be a fan of a particular band or artist.

Initial volumes in the series focus on a diverse group of artists and subjects, from Duran Duran to Chic to Iggy Pop, each available as a digital download for as low as $1.99. New titles are set to be released weekly.