Exhuming Bob 31e: A Review of Victor Maymudes’ Another Side Of Bob Dylan

November 26, 2014

 

Exhuming Bob 31e

A Review Of

Victor Maymudes’

Another Side Of Bob Dylan

by

R.E. Prindle

There’s nothing left for me,

I live in memory among my souvenirs.

Some letters tied with blue,

a  photograph or two,

I see a rose from you

The Late Great Ferlin Husky

The Late Great Ferlin Husky

Among my souvenirs.

A few more tokens rest

Within my treasure chest,

And though they do their best

To give me consolation

I count them all apart and

As the teardrops start

I find a broken heart

Among my souvenirs.

 

As sung by Ferlin Husky

 

There is now an interregnum of a decade or two where Victor goes off to New Mexico to live his life without Bob nursing his bad memories among his souvenirs.

Dylan has left a memory over the years of cruel and vicious behavior to friend and foe alike.  While his victims endured his insults and injuries during the high tide of his fame some are now coming out to denounce him.  Joni Mitchell, a competitor for top folk honors, has denounced Bob as a plagiarist and all around fraud.  Al Aronowitz registered his complaints long ago in now unavailable books and ignored articles.  Jacob Maymudes has taken this time to release his father’s list of complaints.

Victor’s life was so entwined with Bob’s that he still wished to conceal the depth of his grievances not wishing as he said to write a tell all book.  More’s the pity.  He did relate his worst stories to Al telling him to use them.  Not necessary, Al had enough complaints of his own to fill volumes.  Even then Al’s respect for Dylan’s talent was such that he too restrained himself relating only his most hurtful remembrances among his souvenirs.

The amazing thing is that Dylan couldn’t even restrain himself with his Madonna, Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands, and wife Sara.  One is astounded that in her own home he allowed her to come downstairs one morning to find him dandling another woman on his knee in the kitchen.  Sara promptly filed for divorce astounding Bob:  ‘People in my family just don’t get divorced.’ he complained uncomprehendingly.

Either that is embarrassingly naïve or perhaps in his parents troubled relationship something similar had happened and he was only acting naturally.  Some sort of repetition compulsion such as happens, as Bob’s heart was broken he left a trail of broken hearts behind him.  Certainly the root of his behavior can be found in his hometown of Hibbing.  Apparently Bob suffered unbearable humiliations at home thus venting his anger on those around him throughout the rest of his life.  During the Sixties ‘what goes around comes around’ was a common expression.  It was a long winded way of saying karma, so once he was in power he made everyone look out.  ‘Trouble in front, trouble behind’ as Bob Hunter wrote.  Man, woman and child beware, Bob’s chugging on down the line.

Al, who hung around with Bob the longest relates a situation or two with Dylan at the Isle of Wight Festival in England shortly after Woodstock.  Al was in Levon Helm’s dressing room when Dylan came in.  Dylan glowered at Al snarling ‘What are you doing here?  Get the fuck out of here.’

You can imagine the effect that had on Al who hadn’t yet figured out the imperial Dylan.  Al stifled himself and left.  Astonishingly he was able to endure such an insult as he continued his duties while remaining loyal to his idol.

Perhaps Dylan was just trying to get rid of Al who was in reality an eternal presence while I’m not sure he was invited or just stringing along.  As a journalist his presence could be explained as pursuing a story.  If Al didn’t take that hint Dylan gave a stronger one that Al managed to surf also.

Al Aronowitz At The End

Al Aronowitz At The End

This is a rather amazing story.  Al tells it well too.

It isn’t clear whether this was a setup to humiliate Al or not but if not then it was a major testing of the audience to see what they would take.  The show had been going on all day a roaring success.  The time of Dylan’s appearance was scheduled for about ten o’clock at night.  He was to be preceded by The Band.  The Band’s technical expert decided that the sound was not quite to his liking although according to Al it had been excellent all day.  The technician began checking the cables, crawling around in the equipment and what not taking a very long time.  Al was in Dylan’s camper so Bob ordered him to go find the reason for the delay.

Al didn’t really have official status so he had to be especially courteous.  He explained to the tech that Bob was getting irritated at the delay wanting to get the show moving.  The tech fobbed him off.

Bob was even more irritated when Al reported back abusing him further.  After a while, the delay was getting to be quite long,  Bob sent Al forth again this time to see Robbie Robertson, prod him to get his guy moving.  Robertson merely turned his back on Al walking away.

Al reported back to be abused further.  More time passed, Bob sent Al back to the tech.  The tech told Al that The Band wasn’t going on until he was satisfied with the sound.  Al returned for a torrent of abuse from Dylan.  Enduring the abuse must have been a deep humiliation.  It was probably meant to send Al packing but Al hung in there.  Eventually the show got on the road; Bob made his appearance.

Over the years many people have noticed Dylan’s seeming contempt for his audience so it may be that he was combining an opportunity to see how much Al could take while testing his audience.

Of especial significance here is Bob’s use of the phrase ‘Get the fuck out of here.’  He would also use this phrase in dismissing Victor’s daughter from his coffee house.  Victor of course could not allow Bob to talk to his daughter using such language putting forth a mild protest although the incident precipitated his final break with Dylan.

It seems pretty clear that in his career Dylan was acting out his resentment of the way he had been treated back home in Hibbing.  It is not improbable that someone had used the same phrase to him back in Hibbing so that Bob reacted in his life by setting up situations in which he could shift his burden onto someone else.

Dylan could be emotionally quite violent in venting his anger and making it public too.  The really hate filled rant Ballad In Plain D directed at Carla Rotolo and her mother is really quite astonishing.  He would vent his rage over incidents more than once on record over quite trivial things although they may have represented more serious disturbances in his psyche.  Most notable of course is his hate filled rant against Edie Sedgwick in Like A Rolling Stone.

Bobby Newirth had taken Edie Sedgwick to meet Dylan in late ’64.  Dylan was taken with her even though he was in the midst of several affairs including Suze Rotolo and his future wife Sara.  Edie and he had a meeting the next month in January of ’65 where some sort of understanding was apparently reached.  Bob then left on tour including England where he tried to establish a relationship with Marianne Faithfull, returning in May of that year.

In the interim Edie met Andy Warhol.  Edie was living on an inheritance that she was quickly consuming thus she was seeking some way to earn money.  Teaming up with Warhol seemed promising so her magic summer of ’65 was about to begin.

Dylan returned to find his own plans for Edie disrupted.  They had it out at a party in June during which Edie explained her financial situation to Dylan.

In a towering rage at his seeming rejection Dylan sat down venting his emotions in what turned out to be Like A Rolling Stone.  While none of us record buyers had a clue of what the song was really about, we devised all kinds of fantastic explanations that make us look ridiculous now.   The hate anthem was merely about Dylan’s situation vis-à-vis Edie and Andy.  Thus the lines:

You used to ride on the chrome horse

With your diplomat

Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat

Ain’t it hard when you discover that

He really wasn’t where it was at.

After he took from you

Everything he could steal.

In the context of Bob, Edie and Andy then Dylan is excoriating Edie who may or may not have gotten the reference.  Bob’s technique was to make a sort of dream displacement from the fact to the image.  Thus he makes Andy Edie’s diplomat while Andy did have a Siamese cat.  The term chrome horse is merely a motorcylist’s term for his bike although it seems like a tough image to crack for those of us who took it symbolically.

Edie had opted for a relationship with Andy but that was not working out well as Andy, while using her in his movies, was not providing her with income.  Hence he really wasn’t where it was at, money being the issue whether with Bob or Andy.

In his effort to woo Edie from Andy to get his revenge Dylan and Grossman would promise to put Edie in a movie with Dylan.  Perhaps that was the crux of the meeting in June.

Edie who was of old stock New York society, the Sedgwicks were socially important, had introduced Andy into a society to which he could never have been admitted on his own.  Thus while he benefited Edie’s reputation was destroyed by her association with him hence she was out on the street where she couldn’t function.  Andy had taken everything from her that he could steal and then dropped her.

Of course, the same would have been true with Dylan who was not exactly a society icon and never would be.  Having lured her away from Warhol Dylan then dumped her while writing another vicious song about her, One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later).

This viciousness was part and parcel of Dylan’s personality.  Somewhat miraculously he writes that he has a clear conscience down among his souvenirs.  I truly hope he has but I don’t see how.

Victor left Dylan’s employ mid-1966 going off to live his own life until he rejoined Dylan a few years down the road.

Johnny Cool

Johnny Cool

We will examine those years in Exhuming Bob 31f.

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