Monday, February 28, 2011


I was off the internet during most of today; in fact, I wasn't even near a computer most of the day.

So I turn on my computer around 4 p.m., get on the internet, and see this sad story:

Suze Rotolo, Bob Dylan's longtime girlfriend during his fledgling days as a Greenwich Village folk singer and the woman who appears alongside him on the famous cover of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan," passed away this weekend at her home in Manhattan following a long illness, Rolling Stone reports. Rotolo was 67.

In addition to forever being captured on the Don Hunstein-photographed "Freewheelin' " cover, Rotolo's three-year relationship with Dylan, from 1961 to 1964, also inspired him to write three of his early love songs, "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright," "Tomorrow is a Long Time," and "Boots of Spanish Leather." (Dylan's breakup with Rotolo also influenced one of his most vitriolic tunes, "Ballad in Plain D," a song Dylan later regretted recording.) Rotolo is also acknowledged for pushing Dylan toward the political awareness that flavored his Greenwich Village work.

"All is gone, all is gone, admit it, take flight. I gagged twice, doubled, tears blinding my sight. My mind it was mangled, I ran into the night. Leaving all of love's ashes behind me," Dylan wrote in "Ballad in Plain D" after his breakup with Rotolo. "The wind knocks my window, the room it is wet. The words to say I'm sorry, I haven't found yet. I think of her often and hope whoever she's met, will be fully aware of how precious she is."

In the many writings about the pair, their relationship is invariably described as "tumultuous" or "rocky." In its obituary for Rotolo, The New York Times points to her autobiography, "A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the 60s" where she describes her difficulty with being a "boyfriend's 'chick,' a string on his guitar."

Following her August 1963 breakup with Dylan, Rotolo reunited with film editor Enzo Bartoccioli, who she met in Italy a year earlier. She later married Bartoccioli, and the couple remained together until her death this weekend. Over the past decades, Rotolo rarely spoke about her time with Dylan, but that changed within the past few years. She was interviewed for Martin Scorsese's Dylan documentary "No Direction Home," and later authored the highly regarded biography "A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties." Rotolo was also a noted illustrator and artist.

She was the woman in the famous iconic album cover of The Freewheeling Bob Dylan: One of my favorite records. Here it is:

I read her book either last year or during 2009; I've forgotten exactly when. I remember little of it now as I think about it. But it had an explanation, which I finally understood, of the idea of the grapevine: How the vines on a grape arbor get tangled and go off in all different directions, like talk often can.

(News story from Amplifier, a music blog at

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