Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Suze Rotolo: More Than Dylan's Early Muse

Suze Rotolo with Bob Dylan in the early 60s. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives
Since her death on 24 February at the age of 67, Suze Rotolo has been commemorated as "Bob Dylan's muse" and the girl on the front cover of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan – Dylan's second album which propelled him to fame. [Nathalie Rothschild, Guardian.co.uk]

In addition to forever being captured on the Don Hunstein-photographed "Freewheelin' " cover, Rotolo's three-year relationship with Dylan, from 1961 to 1964, also inspired him to write three of his early love songs, "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright," "Tomorrow is a Long Time," and "Boots of Spanish Leather." Dylan's breakup with Rotolo also influenced one of his most vitriolic tunes, "Ballad in Plain D". 

 "All is gone, all is gone, admit it, take flight. I gagged twice, doubled, tears blinding my sight. My mind it was mangled, I ran into the night. Leaving all of love's ashes behind me," The wind knocks my window, the room it is wet. The words to say I'm sorry, I haven't found yet. I think of her often and hope whoever she's met, will be fully aware of how precious she is." [Ballad in Plain D]

Although it's not surprising that the obituaries highlight her relationship with the singer, "Bob Dylan's ex" is really not an adequate epithet for Rotolo. A trained artist and jewellery maker, she never sought the spotlight herself, but she was a fascinating woman who helped shape the rebellious 1960s. [Full Article: Nathalie Rothschild, Guardian.co.uk]

Rotolo rarely spoke about her time with Dylan, but that changed within the past few years. Rotolo appeared in Martin Scorsese's film 'No Direction Home: Bob Dylan,' a documentary focusing on Dylan's early career from 1961 to 1966. In 2007's semi-biographical Dylan film 'I'm Not There,' Charlotte Gainsbourg portrayed a character that was part Rotolo, part Dylan's early wife Sara. Rotolo authored the highly regarded biography "A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties" [2008] [Excerpt from Salon.com Book Review ]  

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