The B-side: Another Side of Bob Dylan
Victor Maymudes’ meeting with Bob Dylan in 1961 was the start of a 40-year friendship. As tour manager, personal friend and traveling companion, Maymudes was with the iconic star from the beginning. “Another Side of Bob Dylan: A Personal History on the Road and off the Tracks,” which is co-written and edited by Jacob Maymudes, is a behind-the-scenes look at Dylan’s life.
Jacob sets the stage for the memoir, which is based on 24 hours of taped recollections made by his father before his untimely death in 2001. From the beginning, Victor knew he was lucky:
All over the planet Bob made people feel better, and I got to be a part of that. . . . I have so much to say in respect of how amazing it was for me; how much of a positive force he was for me and how truly wonderful our great adventure was.
It was an adventure that was often fueled by drugs and drink. Victor was there when Dylan famously introduced the Beatles to marijuana in their New York City hotel room. Dylan passed out on the floor, while the Fab Foursome had a heck of a good time. “I’m a bit embarrassed that my father’s legacy will largely consist of having a hand in turning the Beatles on to pot, rather than something a little more creative or academic,” writes Jacob.
For Victor, Dylan is above all a writer, and “Another Side” shows an often overlooked side of Dylan as a hard-working writer. “Bob’s genius stemmed from his insatiable appetite for knowledge, which fed into his identity as a prolific writer and extremely hard worker. To this day, I don’t know anyone else who works harder than he does for his craft,” Victor recalls.
As Dylan’s tour manager in the 60s, Victor was “having the greatest life in the world.” He was there when Dylan dropped in on octogenarian poet laureate Carl Sandburg. He sets the story straight about Dylan’s famous motorcycle crash – not a crash, but a “simple accident.” He gets to the heart of why Dylan married Sara Lownds and not Joan Baez, reporting that Dylan said: “She’ll be there when I want her to be there, she’ll do it when I want her to do it.”
Victor describes his life in New Mexico, where he started a family and hung out with actors Dennis Hopper and John Law, in the years before he rejoined Dylan on his Never-Ending Tour from 1986 to 1996. One of the most interesting sections of the book is Victor’s detailed account of the monotony of a tour. A life on the road with Best Westerns and Howard Johnson’s at each destination is far from glamorous. Yet, as Victor sees it:
Bob considers himself a simple man who performs a trade. Like a plumber, carpenter or stonemason. As with those trades one does not stop for a period of time only to pick it up again at a later date. So Bob sees himself as a musician, that’s his trade, and musicians play concerts. That’s the simplicity behind the Never-Ending Tour. It’s a fundamental part of who Bob is as a person.
“Another Side of Bob Dylan” paints a breezy, affectionate – and honest — portrait of Dylan and of the times that he forever changed.
“Another Side of Bob Dylan” is available on amazon.com and at your favorite New York bookstores.