Bob Dylan: Don’t Think Twice

2 Mar


Bob Dylan

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan

If you’ve seen the album cover of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, you’ve seen Suze Rotolo, who died last week.

She’s the woman hanging on to Dylan’s arm, but she was no hanger-on, as Dylan himself would attest. She was his girlfriend for three years — over the objections of Rotolo’s mother — an important influence and a sounding board during the early 60s.

From Dylan’s Chronicles, Volume One:

“Backstage the humidity was soaring. Performers came and went, waited to go on and milled around. As usual, the real show was backstage. I was talking to a dark-haired girl, Carla Rotolo, who I knew a little bit. Carla was Alan Lomax’s personal assistant. Carla introduced me to her sister. Her sister’s name was Susie but she spelled it Suze. Right from the start I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She was the most erotic thing I’d ever seen. She was fair skinned and golden haired, full-blood Italian. The air was suddenly filled with banana leaves. We started talking and my head started to spin. Cupid’s arrow had whistled by my ears before, but this time it hit me in the heart and the weight of it dragged me overboard. Suze was seventeen years old, from the East Coast. Had grown up in Queens, raised in a left-wing family. Her father had worked in a factory and had recently died.  She was involved in the New York art scene, painted and made drawings for various publications, worked in graphic design and off-Broadway theatrical publications, also worked on civil rights committees — she could do a lot of things. Meeting her was like stepping into the tales of 1,001 Arabian nights. She had a smile that could light up a street full of people and was extremely lively, had a particular type of voluptuousness — a Rodin sculpture come to life.  She reminded me of a libertine heroine. She was just my type.”

Ironically, according to the New York Times, she wasn’t crazy about the album cover or the relationship  that made her famous. On the album cover: “Every time I look at that picture, I think I look fat,” she told the Times. On Dylan: “An elephant in the room of my life,” she wrote.



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