A Look Inside the Book

The Foreword

Why is this book different from all other Bob Dylan books?

The answer is quite simple. It is because these stories are told by the only other guy who was there. His name is Louie Kemp and he and Bobby Zimmerman met at summer camp when he was eleven years old. For the next fifty years, the two amigos maintained a heroic friendship. That’s a lot longer than most marriages last, or relationships, cars, refrigerators, fish, claims to fame, or anything else I can think of.

The two friends proceeded to travel the world, gaining renown in their respective fields and becoming—beyond doubt—the two most successful dropouts in the history of the University of Minnesota. Yet, they continually came back together to share epic adventures, most of which have never been written about until now, and certainly not from this close up.

When I first heard some of Louie’s stories, I thought, This is what happens when your best friend from childhood becomes a superstar. As I heard more of his tales, I began to feel the tug of something much bigger and just as credible.

In Dylan & Me, Louie has faithfully and unselfconsciously written nothing less than a historical work, a modern-day version of Tom Sawyer’s adventures with Huckleberry Finn. Bobby Zimmerman from Hibbing, Minnesota, is Tom, of course—the ringleader and dreamer. Louie Kemp from Duluth, Minnesota, though he sees himself as his friend’s protector, is the more naïve and innocent of the two. Their uniquely American escapades, both before and after Bobby became “Bob,” make for fun, entertaining, and very enlightening reading—especially the way Louie tells them.

Congratulations on wrestling this big, uniquely American story to the ground and squeezing it between the covers of a book. Or, as Bob might say (and often did), “Good work, Louie.”

—Kinky Friedman Echo Hill Ranch, Texas

An excerpt from the book…

Coming off “Tour ’74,” Bobby’s creative juices were flowing big time. When I came back from Alaska in July, I went to see Bobby at his place outside Minneapolis, and he played me the songs he had written. These would constitute his critically acclaimed albumBlood on the Tracks, and I was one of the first people to hear them.

“Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young are playing tonight in Saint Paul,” he said. “Do you want to go with me?”

We went to the concert, which was at the Saint Paul Civic Center. Afterwards, we went to the hotel where the band was staying. Bill Graham and Barry Imhoff were the tour promoters, so we had a chance to see and visit with them again. After a while, Bobby mentioned to Stephen Stills that he had just written some new songs and of course Stephen wanted to hear them. So Bobby, Stephen, and I went into the bedroom of the suite and Bobby played a few things.

Stephen was obviously loaded, and when Bobby sang “Idiot Wind,” he became paranoid and very agitated.

Relax, man; the song’s not about you

“You wrote that song about me!” he shouted. “Why did you write that song about me?”

He jumped up and got right in Bobby’s face. As Bobby’s friend and self-appointed protector, I jumped in between them so Stephen couldn’t get any closer. Carefully, I eased Stephen back.

Bobby just laughed and said, “Relax, man; the song’s not about you,” as he continued to sing and strum without missing a beat.

Millions of people around the world identify personally with Bobby’s songs and feel as if he is speaking directly to them. But few of them are loaded enough to think the songs were actually written about them.