Whose Life Is It, After All?

Bob Dylan w ith Suze Rotolo in the Columbia Records studio in 1962. [Source: dylandreams]

Suze Rotolo was the girl on Dylan’s arm on the album cover of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. She became his girlfriend when she was 17 and he was 20. Their tempestuous affair became the stuff o f his songs, and Dylan fans resented her for wounding his tender heart. He remembered her fondly 40 years later in his memoir, Chronicles. Now Suze has published a memoir of her own, A Freewhelin’ Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the 1960s. She discussed it on NPR’s Fresh Air, where you can read an excerpt:

In so many ways my past with Bob Dylan has always been a presence, a parallel life alongside my own, no matter where I am, who I’m with, or what I am doing.

Dylan’s public, his fans and followers, create him in their own image. They expect him to be who they interpret him to be. The very mention of his name invokes his myth and unleashes an insurmountable amount of minutiae about the meaning of every word he ever uttered, wrote, or sang.

As Bob Dylan’s fame grew so far out of bounds, I felt I had secrets to keep. Though I kept my silence, I didn’t relish being the custodian of such things. Time passes and the weight of secrets dissipates. Articles are written and biographies are churned out that trigger memories only because they are often far from the reality I knew. They tend to be lackluster yet fascinating in their fantasy. I acknowledge that memory is a fickle beast. Fragments of stories

stride in and out; some leave traces, while others do not. Secrets remain. Their traces go deep, and with all due respect I keep them with my own. The only claim I make for writing a memoir of that time is that it may not be factual, but it is true. Read more


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