A look at Bob Dylan from an insider’s perspective promises more than it delivers.
On and off, from the early 1960s to the turn of the century, Victor Maymudes was one of those closest to Dylan for the longest stretches, to the point where the reclusive artist said, “Victor speaks for me!” He sometimes had the title of road manager, but at other times headed security, served as frequent chess partner, secured and designed his personal touring bus, engaged in philosophical, mind-bending conversations, and occasionally allowed himself to suffer humiliation as flunky or worse. “What I needed from Bob, I was more than willing to pay the price for, to have front-row access to his brilliance,” he said on the tapes that form the basis for this posthumous memoir, edited and co-written by his son. The author and Dylan clearly had a complex relationship—though so has anyone who has had any relationship with Dylan. A revelatory book might have resulted from it, but this isn’t it. The major skeleton in the closet turns out to be Victor’s, and there is more about buses and dogs than there is anything new about what makes Dylan tick. At one point, Victor apparently had the idea of “writing a book starring Bob’s personal bus,” perhaps even “narrated from the perspective of Bob’s tour bus,” which would not have been a good idea. Among the interesting bits: Dylan has very bad eyesight but doesn’t wear glasses because his whole world is interior. He hasn’t been involved with many women and prefers them passive. He quit drinking, cold turkey, in 1994. Victor felt deeply conflicted about writing any Dylan book, even after their rift made the lucrative proposition more of a necessity. He died in the process, leaving tapes behind, with the juicier stuff apparently left out.
Another footnote to the overflow of Dylan biography.