Pass it Around
"If I made records for my own pleasure, I would only record Charley Patton songs." - Bob Dylan
First Reading: Victor Maymudes and Jacob Maymudes Another Side of Bob Dylan
Anyone who has looked at Bob Dylan photos from the 1960s (in particular those showing the young artist playing chess) will recognize Victor Maymudes. Dylan's tour manager of sorts, longtime confidant and every few years chief squabbler. That is, they got along and then they didn't. Maymudes made the same trips as Dylan for decades. Carrying his guitars, fixing problems, and even, as Dylan said early on "speaking for him." Like most friendships, it had ups and downs. For years, Dylan aficionados have assumed the dark handsome man seen on the edges held many of the Dylan secrets. The closest confidant to one of the most important figures of the last 50 years.
Author Jacob Maymudes, son of Victor, has constructed an autobiography of his father from 24 hours of taped memories left behind when he passed. 24 hours of recollections does not make a book, but this comes close enough, and we are fortunate he took the time to remember ushering Dylan along for years. Maymudes apparently had a lucrative contract when he started recording his recollections, but it came to a halt when he was struck down by a brain aneurysm over ten years ago. Son Jacob attempted a kickstarter campaign to bring the book back to life but it didn't get too far. Still, the book was finished and it will be available in September 2014 from St. Martin's Press.
Covering roughly the same time as Dylan's own autobiography Chronicles, though with far less eccentricity…the book features many of the same legendary supporting characters. The appropriately named, apparently, Albert Grossman. Various Village people…including club owners and early impresarios who placed Dylan before audiences and many more. Maymudes was already an insider when Dylan was getting started.
Maymudes follows each of the taped "chapters" with his own recollections of his father and places the memories into historical context. He reveals his father as fascinating figure who could have only lived in the 1960s and the subsequent decades. Turbulent times for all and there are celebrity brushes galore. Dennis Hopper, George Harrison, Marlon Brando …you get the picture. Some are Victor's contacts, some are Dylan's. All are larger than life and will continue to be as long as books documenting the era are written or read. Still, as it was written by the son, this is more a book about Victor than it is the singer.
It has become passé to use the phrase "nothing is revealed" when discussing new Dylan books. The phrase comes from "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest" and Dylan's eighth studio album. In this case, much is revealed, but whether enough to recommend purchasing the book is questionable. Another Dylan lyric "Nothing was Delivered" might be unfair, but still this informed reader found few dramatic revelations. While any serious fan of the artist will read this, that there could have been much, much more is evident. The untimely passing of this witness to history means much of the story will remain untold...and one suspects Mr. Dylan has skirted history again. Had Maymudes survived long enough to be goaded and prompted by an editor into revealing more is obvious.
St. Martins Press 9/9/2014 304 Pages. Hardcover and Kindle. Eight Page color photograph insert (unseen in review copy) Available for Pre-orders HERE.