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Suze Rotolo Passes at 67

Posted by Miss Ess, March 1, 2011 09:56am | Post a Comment

The woman who shared the cover of Bob Dylan's The Freewheelin' and both dated and inspired the artist for 3 highly influential early years, Suze Rotolo, has passed away in New York City at 67 after a long illness. She wrote a fascinating autobiography a couple of years back in great part about her life with Dylan that is recommended reading! Sure am glad she was able to share her thoughts and write it before she died. Rest in peace, Suze Rotolo.

bob dylan the freewheelin

No Direction Home: Dylan Was Always Bound for Glory

Posted by Miss Ess, February 11, 2009 07:05pm | Post a Comment
I rewatched Scorsese's No Direction Home, the documentary about Bob Dylan, last night for the first time since it aired on TV a few years back. The DVD is 3 and half hours long! But fabulous, through and through.

no direction home

The most interesting points in the movie for me were the moments where Dylan's self creation was discussed. He's long been known as something of a shape shifter and it was interesting to think about the concept of home through his eyes -- where it is and how one gets there. I still wouldn't call Dylan a straight bob dylan and joan baezshooter or anything after watching the documentary, but my interest was piqued by both his comments and those of his many friends and collegues who were interviewed for the project, among them: Dave Van Ronk, Joan Baez, Mark Spoelstra, Al Kooper, Liam Clancy, Allen Ginsberg, Pete Seeger, Mavis Staples and Suze Rotolo.

Dylan says he was "born a long way from where [he was] supposed to be" and that he's been looking for his home, forging his own version of it ever since -- and he definitely doesn't look back. He's been inventing his own truth, his own identity throughout his career, allowing no one to pin him down at any one moment. Even his last name is an invention, purely his way of creating an identity for himself.  Dylan believes he had no past, and totally seperated himself from his Hibbing, MN upbringing. He only looked to the present moment, and did what pleased him then. This goes a long way toward explaining his career and its diversity as well as the period in the mid-60s where he took a lot of heat for "going electric." The film covers this period with dynamic energy, interviewing those who were on the side of Dylan's "authentic" folk music/protest songs and those whose eyes were fixed on the future of rock in 1965. It's thrilling to watch the portion of the film where the audacio1965 newport folk festivalus 1965 Newport Folk Festival performance is discussed, but then again, I always seem to find this a thrilling moment in musical history.

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Suze Rotolo's A Freewheeling Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties

Posted by Miss Ess, November 7, 2008 06:05pm | Post a Comment

I just finished reading Suze Rotolo's A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties. Rotolo is most famous for having had a complicated and inspiring relationship with Bob Dylan early in his career and for appearing with him arm in arm on the cover of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.

the freewheelin bob dylan


Her autobiography is an easy read, and she chronicles not only her time in the Village in the early 60s, but also the trials of growing up thbob dylan suze rotoloe child of two communists in the era of blacklisting, and her post-Dylan trip to then-recently Communist Cuba for several months in 1964. It's interesting to read about a woman's life in the early 60s (I was glad to have recently experienced a visual touchstone of the early 60s in Mad Men) and the limitations that were part and parcel of daily life back then that are now in many ways foreign to us gals. When Suze was with Dylan, everyone expected she would merely be his shadow and have no career or creative pursuit of her own, and, among other things, she was subjected to his own rigid expectations of her looks and her second-class status.

While the book was mainly enjoyable to read, I'm not sure if I was expecting too much, but it was not heavy on details, in my opinion. I respect Rotolo's right to keep some things private, of course, but I also wondered at times why she was compelled to write a book if she wanted to keep so much to herself. Still, the book does give an outline of The Village as an exciting, creative place and also of Dylan as a charismatic but manipulative charmer. She also gives an interesting take on the corrosive effects of fame on individuals, those around them, and their relationships. bob dylan suze rotolo dave van ronk

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