Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Freewheelin' Suze Rotolo Dead at 67

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan“It was freezing out. He wore a very thin jacket, because image was all. Our apartment was always cold, so I had a sweater on, plus I borrowed one of his big, bulky sweaters. On top of that I put on a coat. So I felt like an Italian sausage. Every time I look at that picture, I think I look fat.” - Suze Rotolo

I bet The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan album cover stirs a lot of good memories in a lot of people. It does for me, and I arrived late to the folk scene. In fact, Freewheelin' was released two years before I was even born. But I've loved poetry and rhymes since I first learned to read, and I think that's why folk music appealed to me when most of my peers were listening to Madonna and A Flock of Seagulls. The purity of a story comes through so clearly in a folk song.

In the '80s my dad bought me a 1967 Toyota Corolla and had it painted candy apple red. For years while I was building up my record collection, I would hop in that Toyota just about every Saturday and cruise down Shannon Road, headed for the Bessemer Flea Market where I would scour the booths for old folk albums. Freewheelin' was one of the many scratchy treasures I found there.

What's appealing about this album cover is how intimate it is: a candid photograph of a couple walking through the streets of New York City. That's Bob Dylan's girl at that time—17-year-old Suze Rotolo—hanging on to his arm. They say she was his muse for a while, and that you can pick out pieces of her in the classic Dylan songs "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," "One Too Many Mornings," "Tomorrow Is a Long Time," "Boots of Spanish Leather," and the harsh break-up song, "Ballad in Plain D."

Upon first laying eyes on her, Dylan said she was the most erotic thing he had ever seen, a "fair skinned and golden haired, full-blood Italian." They dated for three years, and then Dylan moved on to Joan Baez and soon after married Sara Lownds. In 1967 Rotolo married Italian film director Enzo Bartoccioli. Rotolo died February 24 after a long battle with lung cancer. She is survived by her husband, sister, and son, Luca.

If you want to know more about the smiling girl on the Dylan album cover, she published her memoir, A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties, in 2008.


2 comments:

Hunter said...

Love this blog entry! I thought it was cool to hear your background story of the album and the man.

Dylan is a once-a-century kind of artist. Well done, T. I really enjoyed this and I love me some Bobby D. Some personal favs for me are...
1) She belongs to me
2) You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When you Go (or the ENTIRE Blood on the Tracks Album)
3) You Ain't Going Nowhere
4) It's All Over Now Baby Blue
5) Hurricane

Tressa said...

Thank you for reading it, lol. Maybe not many people know who she is, and she's not a famous artist, but she through Dylan does bring back some good memories for me.

Bob Dylan is the best songwriter EVER. I think he's one of the best singers, crazy, I know, but his true voice is refreshing amid the manufactured singers of today.

I forgot about "You Ain't Going Nowhere." Will have to listen to it tonight.

I love: Honey Just Allow Me One More Chance, Neighborhood Bully, What's a Sweetheart Like You, To Make You Feel My Love, Boots of Spanish Leather, Oxford Town, Corrina Corrina, One Too Many Mornings, She Belongs to Me, To Ramona, Just Like a Woman, Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands, Maggie's Farm,...OK. Fingers are cramping but the list goes on and on.

Thanks for your support. :-D