Saturday, November 02, 2019

A Freewheelin' Time - Suza Rotolo

Rotolo is best known in pop circles as the woman walking with Bob Dylan on the cover of his The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan album. But well before Suze knew Bob, she was a writer, a poet, a daughter of prominent communists, and a part of the NYC folk scene as well as the burgeoning civil rights movement. She met Dylan as he was an aspiring folkie, just learning his craft and starting to define himself. Her story talks at least as much about herself, Greenwich Village and the characters who lived there as it does her time with Bob, as it should since at the time, besides being her lover, he was simply another of the many talented folks hanging out in the scene. Rotolo goes into various amounts of detail about everyone from John Lee Hooker to Bill Cosby to Dave Van Ronk and innumerable others as well as many of the establishments that peppered the area - coffee shops, bars, bookstores and various industries that could only exist at this place'n'time.

This is truly her story and not Bob's, but they were intertwined at the time, although they did spend some time apart, such as when she went to live'n'school in Italy for a few months or when he would go off on tours. She stayed with him for years, despite his occasional dalliances, but as his fame grew, she could no longer simply be his "chick" - a sidekick used for access to the star. They broke up reasonably amiably and would still connect and hang out at times - especially since they still had innumerable common friends. Eventually fame'n'time caused them to drift apart more'n'more and Suze developed a life of her own and as the 60's (and this book) came to an end, she moved to Europe to escape the rising insanity of the times.

Of course, I still have a close affinity for the 60's - the hopes'n'dreams that came from that time as well as the music, naturally - so I love to read about the time and Suze has a finely casual, descriptive narrative. This is a truly enjoyable read and a terrific capture of this place'n'time.

Oddly, while searching on this blog, I realized that I read this book almost exactly 10 years ago, although I have no recollection of reading it then. But, here is my first review of this biography!