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Business News/ Mint-lounge / Features/  Book Review | Another Side Of Bob Dylan

Dylan on the road

Back in 1964, when his songwriting was taking the world by storm, he released an album, Another Side Of Bob Dylan, featured outstanding tracks such as To Ramona; All I Really Want To Do; It Ain’t Me, Babe; and My Back Pages. Now, half a century later, we have another product with the same title.

Another Side Of Bob Dylan is the new memoir by Victor Maymudes, Bob Dylan’s former tour manager and close friend. The book, subtitled A Personal History On The Road And Off The Tracks, contains many anecdotes about the singer-songwriter, some of which are not known even to close followers.

Maymudes did not write the book himself, but recorded his experiences on tape with the intention of publishing them one day. After his death in January 2001, his son Jacob discovered the tapes and began the task of putting pen to paper.

Much has been written about Dylan—the autobiography, Chronicles: Volume One, meant to be the first of three parts, Howard Sounes’ biography Down The Highway: The Life Of Bob Dylan, Robert Shelton’s No Direction Home: The Life And Music Of Bob Dylan, and Clinton Heylin’s Bob Dylan: Behind The Shades Revisited. Serious followers would have admired Do You, Mr Jones?: Bob Dylan With The Poets And Professors, edited by Neil Corcoran, where his work is analysed by poets and professors.

Another Side Of Bob Dylan—A Personal History On The Road And Off The Tracks: By Victor Maymudes, co-written and edited by Jacob Maymudes, St Martin’s Press, 288 pages, 197 (paperback) and 2,124 (hardcover), available on
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Another Side Of Bob Dylan—A Personal History On The Road And Off The Tracks: By Victor Maymudes, co-written and edited by Jacob Maymudes, St Martin’s Press, 288 pages, 197 (paperback) and 2,124 (hardcover), available on

While that makes for interesting reading, many pages are wasted in describing Maymudes’ own struggles and association with the hippie scene. Barring a brief reference to the Blood On The Tracks album, and a lengthy chapter on Dylan’s days in Taos, New Mexico, the book adds no value to Dylan the musical legend. It does, however, provide some interesting anecdotes.

During one of Dylan’s encounter with The Beatles in 1964, Maymudes undertook the task of smuggling some pot into The Fab Four’s room. This was the first time they got high together and “laughed till tears rolled down their faces". Dylan, of course, tried smoking after consuming plenty of alcohol, and passed out on the floor. He quit alcohol 30 years later, in 1994. “He just stopped on a dime. He didn’t talk as much once he stopped and he didn’t laugh as loud either… Bob lost a bit of self-esteem when he sobered up too, became a little more introverted and a little less social," the book recounts.

Maymudes once arranged a bus for Dylan after noticing during a 1987 tour that the singer was travelling in the band bus, with no bed, privacy or place to write. When it arrived, Dylan was worried about alienating his band. “It’s hard to gauge what Bob will appreciate or be annoyed by. He doesn’t like causing a scene and prefers to be as anonymous as possible."

Maymudes avoids describing how the songs were written. On a general note, he speaks of how the social and political concerns of the time influenced Dylan. “To write, Bob would retreat to his room and only come out when he was taking a break or getting more coffee and cigarettes. Three, four hours later he would walk out as if only two minutes had passed. He would walk out and ask me what I thought, but he wasn’t looking for help with it. It was more like a ‘This is finished, how does it make you feel?’ kind of thing," the book explains.

Another Side Of Bob Dylan is a collage of vignettes from Dylan’s past, not a study of the great man’s music. But it is worth a read; we are reminded yet again that Dylan remains as meaningful as he was 50 years ago.

Narendra Kusnur is a Mumbai-based music critic.

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Updated: 10 Jan 2015, 12:45 AM IST
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