There are few public figures more enigmatic than Bob Dylan. Go back and watch some of the interviews he’s given over the years if you need to be reminded of just how guarded and evasive he can be. I think especially of his thoroughly uncomfortable 1965 conversation with TIME‘s Horace Judson. More recently, his own autobiography, Chronicles: Volume One, further served to mystify his devoted fans (while likewise delighting many others, of course).
Perhaps this longstanding pattern of evasiveness is the reason so many of us keep reading books and essays or watching documentaries and feature films about him in hopes of filling in some of the blanks and connecting a few more dots in his life and music.
The latest of these perspectives comes to us in from Dylan’s longtime tour manager, confidante, and traveling companion, the late Victor Maymudes. Another Side of Bob Dylan: A Personal History on the Road and off the Tracks, which is edited and co-written by Victor’s son Jacob Maymudes, is based on a series of recorded memories that were taped before the elder Maymudes died suddenly in 2001.
Though Dylan and Maymudes eventually had a falling out, these are the recollections of a friend. It’s not a juicy tell-all memoir but rather a chronicle of the ordinary, as told by someone who spent a lot of time by his side.
It’s a bit disjointed at times, truth be told, and we learn more than we probably need to about portions of the author’s life that have nothing to do with Dylan. But we also pick up fascinating tidbits regarding Dylan’s life from Maymudes’ perspective—like the claim that Dylan’s motorcycle accident really amounted to a one-mile-per-hour tip-over, or the claim that Dylan tried—and failed—to personally introduce the Beatles to marijuana.
This book doesn’t paint anyone in a particularly flattering light, but neither does it go out of its way to vilify anyone. Rather, it simply gives us another perspective on life with the man who, for my money, is the greatest songwriter of our time. And for a Dylan fan like me, that’s reason enough to pick it up.
Header photo via themillblog.com