Exhuming Bob 31b: A Review, Victor Maymudes’ Another Side Of Bob Dylan

October 29, 2014

 

 

Exhuming Bob 31b

A Review

Victor Maymudes’  Another Side Of Bob Dylan

by

R.E. Prindle

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A Stranger Came Walking…

This book is actually written by Victor’ son Jacob Maymudes, since Victor died a couple decades ago. The tapes Victor recorded appear to be heavily edited while Jacob is defending his father against Dylan.  In such a situation the temptation to rewrite as well as editing might be too strong to resist.  It would have been better to have used the full transcripts as spoken.

Jacob has really written a biography of his family focusing on his dad’s relationship with Dylan. It is a bittersweet tale while Jacob has written a very readable and pleasant little volume.  He captures well the personal tragedy of his father.

Victor and Bob

Victor and Bob

In this part of the review I will concentrate on Tapes 2 and 3 of Victor’s aural memoir.

After leaving Bob in 1962, almost ’63, Victor took up residence in Yelapa, Mexico a village of 300 at the time with a half dozen Hippies lounging about. Today, let us say, it has been discovered.  Yelapa is in Jalisco State of which Guadalajara is the capital and Puerta Vallarta the main tourist destination.  Yelapa is on the southern end of the 7th largest beach in the world.  Undeveloped when Victor stayed there it is well developed now.  Victor doesn’t explain how he knew of this, what he considers, a terrestrial paradise, but he stays there until…

One day just before sun down, I was laying on the beach with Tom Law, one of my great friends, who would later became the road manager for Peter, Paul and Mary.  But at that moment He was sitting up watching the Mexico sunset while I lay with my feet in the warm glow of the sand.  A stranger came walking down the beach toward us.  There was nobody else in sight….The Stranger stopped in front of us and asked, “You guys know this guy, Victor Maimondez?” mispronouncing my last name.

Tom, who was always cautious and protective of me, squinted up, “Yeah, maybe. What do you want him for?”

The stranger said, “I have a message for him. From someone named Bob Dylan in New York City.  He wants Victor to come back.  They’re going on tour.”

Like something out of the Twilight Zone isn’t it? If it happened, it happened.  Who am I to say differently.

Victor returns triumphantly as Dylan’s tour manager. Grossman grant’s Victor the magnificent salary of 65.00 a week.  Victor was ecstatic.  Heck, even I was making twice that in 1964 although I’m sure I wasn’t having as good a time.

Tape 3, Chapter 3 is a very long chapter of thirty four pages covering approximately eight months in 1964. These boys were certainly living an action packed life as the events covered may be the central part of Bob’s 1960-66 career.

Victor arrives back in LA on November 22, 1963 just in time for the Kennedy assassination. Victor is an authentic voice of the period.  His thoughts are representative of about half the people at the time  While time has sanctified Kennedy’s memory at the time about half the people were relieved to be rid of him.  I was in that half.

Victor’s voice however is phrased in the spirit of the times. It brings the period back in high relief.

In February Dylan, Paul Clayton, Pete Karman and Victor took the well reported cross country auto tour from NYC to SF with Victor doing most of the driving. Today they probably would have used an SUV but theirs was a more modestly sized station wagon.

While Victor adds a few new details his relation places the story in more human terms than other accounts. He and Dylan were outraged at the Kentucky miners’ plight  and the civil rights situation in Dixie so they decide on a drive through for a look see.

The key points are Dylan’s visit to Carl Sandburg in Asheville and the visit to New Orleans and the drive from Denver to SF.

Bob At The time.  Note Subdued Hair Style

Bob At The time. Note Subdued Hair Style

Victor’s account of the Sandburg visit makes more sense than other accounts I have read. Rather than a cranky reception for this unannounced visit as often reported the boys were met cordially by Mrs. Sandburg who went to get her husband.  Sandburg himself was in his late eighties and apparently frail, tiring easily.  According to Victor he spent about an hour with the boys then tiring returned to the house.

According to Victor Paul Clayton smoothed over the situation while Pete Karman boorishly tried to brush Dylan aside to monopolize the interview.

Carl Sandburg

Carl and Friend

Carl and Friend

For those who for one reason or another are vague as to who Carl Sandburg was his date are 1/6/1878-7/22/67.  He gained fame for what is called his poetry, not only fame but he bagged two Pulitzer Prizes and his biography of Abraham Lincoln netted him another.

He was a Civil Rights activist gaining an award from the NAACP.  Dylan’s interest stemmed from is 1927 collection called The American Song Bag.  The volume was very successful and extremely influential.  Pete Seeger was said to swear by it and if I am not mistaken Huddie Leadbelly Ledbettor memorized a great deal of it.

I managed to pick up a copy at an estate sale for a couple bucks.  it is a fairly amazing collection of what might be called folk songs.  Lots of tunes from the turn of the century and some earlier stuff.  Midnight Special, Frankie and Johnny, the backbone of the Sixties repertoire.  Words and music, nice collection.

Bob said he wanted to talk to Carl about it.  Pete Karman got in the way.

Victor gives a nice tribute and portrait of Paul Clayton who he admired as a great folk figure although time has now passed him by.

The next stop was New Orleans which holds no interest for me although the stories are well told while being well known.

The inner dynamics of the car with Karman being the trouble are well known. Apparently Suze Rotolo included him, probably as a chaperone to make sure Bob didn’t stray too far.   Strange attitude for a Communist girl. When they reached SF Karman was given a plane ticket and sent back to NYC.  Karman was replaced by Bobby Neuwirth who would himself replace victor as Dylan’s confidant.  Neuwirth fit in where Karman didn’t.  But then as a friend of Suze’s who forced him on the trip perhaps his quality of mind was more equal to hers.

After returning , in May of ’64 Dylan left for England with Victor in tow. This was the English trip that formed the material for the film Don’t Look Back.  Unless the tape is edited too heavily by Jacob one would gain the impression that it is just Bob and Victor on this trip.  There is no mention of Grossman or Baez, the movie or even the famous scene at the Savoy, no Lennon, no Beatles, no nothing but Bob and Victor.  One gains the impression that Victor is in love with Bob, practically man and wife.

After England he and Dylan make Bob’s trip to Greece. There are some interesting details here.  According to Victor Dylan wrote the whole of Another Side Of bob Dylan in Greece recording it without practice on returning to New York.

There is no mention of Nico here for whom Dylan wrote I’ll Keep It With Mine at this time. Victor excludes anything except what he and Bob were doing while Victor is guiding Bob and showing him the world.

They then return to NYC

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