the freewheelin’ suze rotolo
I read upsetting news this afternoon that Suze Rotolo died at the age of 67 on Friday. Suze was most commonly know as the woman on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan album cover and Dylan’s girlfriend/muse in the early sixties. To me, she was (and is) a woman to admire for her own mind. Of her, Bob Dylan wrote:
“I couldn’t take my eyes off her… The air was suddenly filled with banana leaves. We started talking and my head started to spin. Cupid’s arrow had whistled past my ears before, but this time it hit me in the heart and the weight of it dragged me overboard.”
“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.”
After I read her book, A Freewheelin Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties, I no longer simply thought of her as Bob Dylan’s girlfriend. She was one of the first musician’s girlfriends that I know of, who remained free to her own desires without losing sight under the bright-lighted glare of of her boyfriend’s life. I considered myself an independent-minded woman before I read the book, but her story revealed that even for a man as iconic and brilliant as Bob Dylan, a woman must cultivate her own mind.
I’ll miss her dearly, and am upset that I’ll never get to chat with her in the East Village, where she lived almost her entire life. Everytime I’m in downtown New York walking around listening to Bob Dylan songs as I like to do, I always wish I’d run into her. Maybe I passed her and didn’t know it?
I’ll be listening to Dylan tunes tonight, as well as this interview with Suze from Fresh Air on NPR that I don’t think I’ve heard before.
Here’s to Suze Rotolo, and as Bob Dylan sings in “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” (a song he wrote about breaking up with Suze): “Goodbye’s to good a word, babe. So I say fare thee well.”