Monday, February 28, 2011

"Freewheelin" Suze Rotolo, 1943-2011

In the '60s in the Village in and around the Limelight (which was then a bar on 7th Ave. just below West 4th St.) I knew a young woman named Carla Rotolo. But you know her younger sister, Suze, better - especially if you are a Bob Dylan fan. Suze was the young woman in the iconoic photo taken in February 1963 by Don Hunstein on Jones Street. a one block side street connecting West 4th and Bleeker, which became the cover of Freewheein Bob Dylan. Suze Rotolo died last weekend at 67.

Suze and Carla - who were Red Diaper Babies - befriended Dylan when he first arrived in New York. Suze was Dylan's girlfriend from 1961 to 1964 and he wrote several of his early love songs to her, Don't Think Twice, It's Alright; Tomorrow is a Long Time; and Boots of Spanish Leather. While they were together Suze (and Carla) influenced his move to the Left. They had a bad breakup, caused partly by his burgeoning relationship with Joan Baez and Suzi's unhappiness with being as she put it "the sixth string on his guitar." It was their breakup which caused him to write, Ballad in Plain D, which he later said he was sorry he wrote. But then we all say things we wish we could take back. We usually can't.

According to Wikipedia,
Rotolo was associated with civil rights work and protests against the travel ban against Cuba. She worked for a time for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). She traveled to Cuba in June 1964, with a group, at a time when it was unlawful for Americans to do so. She was quoted as saying, in regards to opponents of Fidel Castro that, 'These gusanos [worms] are not suppressed. There can be open criticism of the regime. As long as they keep it to talk they are tolerated, as long as there is no sabotage.'
In 2008, she wrote an autobiogaphy - after refusing to discuss Dylan for many years - A Freewheelin'Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties.

Suzi was a painter, teacher and a book illustrator, according to Rolling Stone.

Suze Rotolo died in the arms of her husband Italian film editor Enzo Bartoccioli whom she met on a trip to Italy in 1962. They had a son named Luca.

In Don't think Twice, It's Alright, Dylan wrote:
I once loved a woman, a child I'm told/I gave her my heart, but she wanted my soul.

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