About a year ago, my friend over @ The Wit Continuum recommended Suze Rotolo’s memoir “A Freewheelin’ Time” and I just recently got around to reading it. I really enjoyed her book in style and content: words running down the sides of pages calling out life events and her sketches and copies of vintage posters from folk concerts in 1960’s Greenwich Village.
Although the book is very much Suze’s memoir, an account of Dylan’s early progression as an artist flows through the text by virtue of her relationship with him. Truly the book gives the reader a bird’s eye view to Greenwich Village in the ‘60’s in general and the burgeoning folk scene in particular.
Suze’s very independent nature which manifested at an early age probably owes to the loss of her father when she was still a teenager, before she really had a chance to get her bearings. I admired her adventurous, creative spirit and her unwillingness to allow anyone else to influence or dictate decisions that directly affected her life’s direction.
If your primary hope in reading the book is to get some insight into Bob Dylan in the earliest stages of his development as an artist, I believe is enough there to scratch to itch as well.
Dylan wrote of Suze in his memoir “Chronicles: Vol. One”: “Right from the start I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She was the most erotic thing I’d ever seen. She was fair skinned and golden haired, full-blood Italian. 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 1001 Arabian Nights. She had a smile that could light up a street full of people and was extremely lively, had a kind of voluptuousness – a Rodin sculpture come to life. She reminded me of a libertine heroine. She was just my type.”
Sadly, Suze passed away this February at age sixty-seven. Suze’s artwork can be viewed and in some cases purchased through her website linked below.
*Quote from Bob Dylan’s memoir “Chronicles: Volume One” Simon & Schuster ©2004