Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A Freewheelin’ Time – A memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties – Suze Rotolo

Suze Rotolo is known for being the woman holding onto Bob on the cover of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and that will be her legacy for all time. She always tried to be her own person and believed in women’s rights before there was a term for it, but when you are connected with someone so famous, there is no way to extradite yourself from that connection.

Rotolo lived in the New York area all of her life and moved to Greenwich Village as soon as she left high school. She had a number of older friends who helped her enter the folk scene and who she worked with in different civil rights organizations. Coming from a Communist family of artists and musicians, she was already fairly well-rounded when she came across Dylan in the clubs in town. She helped promoters with her artwork and enthusiasm and became a fixture on the scene and friends to many of the musicians.

Her 4 year relationship went through many ups and downs – as most relationships do – including some long absences, but while Rotolo makes it seem like she wanted to move on, it sounds like the actual reason for their break-up was Dylan’s affair with Joan Baez. I suppose that is fairly understandable revisionist history and who knows, maybe it really was all her idea.

In any case, Rotolo was – and apparently still is – a well rounded person with many interests – music, art, politics – and always tried to explore these different realms. She lived in a wild and exciting time for each of these diversions and has interesting stories of her adventures and the people that she met.

Her writing style is pretty basic, but she weaves some nice tales and gives the reader a good feel for the times. This is not an in-depth exploration of Dylan by any means, but is a nice over-view of Greenwich Village in the 60’s.