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A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 13. Mai 2008

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Face it: The art -- or is it more of a science? -- of dissecting Bob Dylan is a man's game. Most of the Dylan scholars (both the smart and the lame ones), the rock critics who have collectively spent several lifetimes wrestling with his lyrics, the civilian gasbags who hold forth at dinner parties whenever his name is even mentioned, are men. I used to have an officemate who, whenever he wanted to take a break from doing actual work (which was shockingly often), would march into my office singing some random Dylan lyric and challenge me to name which song it came from. I know women who love Dylan's music as much as anyone else does, but I've never met one who felt the need to be a walking, talking sack of trivia.
So whether she knows it or not -- and I suspect she does -- Suze Rotolo has taken something of a risk in writing a memoir of the time she spent in the early '60s as the girlfriend of the Great Man. There are going to be people out there who think she's just cashing in on her role as a handmaiden to genius. But "A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties" is only partly about Dylan. Rotolo has written a perceptive, entertaining and often touching book about a remarkable era in recent American cultural history, about a way of living, of making art, that couldn't have happened at any other time or in any other place.
This is about as far from a juicy tell-all as a memoir can get: Rotolo does share some private details of the story of her romance with Dylan -- the two met in 1961, when Rotolo was 17 and Dylan was 20, and were a couple for some four years -- but her approach is so sensitive, discreet and affectionate that she never comes off as opportunistic. This is an honest book about a great love affair, set against the folk music revival of the early 1960s, but its sense of time and place is so vivid that it's also another kind of love story: one about a very special pocket of New York, in the days when impoverished artists, and not just supermodels, could afford to live there.
Rotolo writes about Dylan's sudden and rapid ascension, but she doesn't underplay her own story, which is engaging in itself: When her mother and stepfather offered her the opportunity to go to school in Italy for six months, she made the wrenching decision to leave her boyfriend behind. (Rotolo includes quotes from some of Dylan's letters to her, which are deeply moving both for their unapologetic silliness and their unvarnished lovesickness.) She also details, conscientiously and without bitterness, some of the issues that led to the couple's eventual breakup. Rotolo, an artist herself, was completely clued in to the sexism of the folk scene (a feature of '60s counterculture in general). She began to shrink from the idea of being a musician's "chick" or, worse, his "old lady." She writes only glancingly of Dylan's romance with Joan Baez, which began when she and Dylan were still a couple: The episode was obviously painful for her, but she doesn't treat it as a major feature of her story. It's possible for women as well as men to be chivalrous, as Rotolo proves.
"A Freewheelin' Time" doesn't begin and end with Dylan: Rotolo also talks about her life after Bob, including an illegal trip she made to Cuba in 1963, as a way of protesting the State Department's travel ban to that country. (Rotolo, raised in a fervently communist household, was sympathetic to communist ideas only to a point; her ongoing questioning of those ideas is a recurring feature of her memoir.) And as the book's title says outright, Rotolo knows that the story of Bob Dylan is inseparable from that of a specific New York neighborhood. In one of the loveliest passages she describes the genesis of the famous photograph that graces the cover of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan," an image whose visual and emotional simplicity made it revolutionary, for album-cover art, at the time.
Rotolo describes how Columbia Records sent a photographer to the couple's apartment on West Fourth Street. For the occasion, Rotolo writes, "Bob chose his rumpled clothes carefully." When it was time to go outside for more pictures, he wore a suede jacket, even though it was an extremely cold day. Rotolo wrapped herself in a green coat, which she belted tightly for more warmth. "I felt like an Italian sausage," she writes.
The cover of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" shows an almost unbearably young-looking couple striding toward the camera -- toward the future -- through a corridor of parked cars and tallish buildings laced with fire escapes. There's slush in the street; this is New York in midwinter, after all. The guy in the picture, a skinny, nervous-looking kid, his head topped with a tall pile of curly hair, is instantly recognizable. But the girl, attractive and thoughtful looking, with a wide-open smile, holds the camera's gaze just as intently. Dylan fans, thanks to their stockpile of important trivia, have always known that this woman's name is Suze Rotolo. Now we know more than just her name. -- Stephanie Zacharek,

"One of the most recognizable album-cover images of the 1960s shows a young man, underdressed for the winter in a light suede jacket, leaning into a young woman. Rotolo was that young woman, and in this uneven, overlong, still fascinating memoir, she tells the story behind that photo and her love for Bob Dylan. Rotolo met Dylan in 1961; she was 17, he 20. While Dylan is the bedrock of her memoir—without him, would there be a book?—he isn’t the whole story. Rotolo discusses her own background (Italian heritage, Communist parents, inability to fit in growing up in Queens, the craziness and sexism of the era), but the dominant setting is the Greenwich Village folk scene. In informal, conversational style, Rotolo recalls those who made that scene, many of them famous but none more so than the complicated Dylan. Given his formidable presence, Rotolo’s adamant refusal to be more than “a string on his guitar” in the book is admirable. The moments when she comes most alive in its pages are the most compelling."
June Sawyers, Booklist

“Suze Rotolo and I must have crossed each others' paths countless times on those downtown New York streets during the post-Beat years when the area was a Mecca for the young and the quirky and the gifted. This was a magic era. Now the last of its funky monuments are being leveled by condo-ization, but its spirit persists strongly in Suze Rotolo. What a wonderful kid she must have been—brave, openhearted, keenly observant and preternaturally wise, able to rise to the challenge of loving a genius like Bob Dylan and knowing when to let go. I'm glad I finally got to meet her in these pages.”
—Joyce Johnson, author of Minor Characters

“Suze Rotolo digs hard and deep. Then she strolls, frets, and paints a gorgeous picture of a singular place and a time that was simpler but all tangled up. Best of all, she’s a natural writer who puts the beguiling voice, skeptical brow, shining eyes, and conductor’s hands I know right before you on the printed page. What’s her secret?” —Sean Wilentz

"A welcome, page-turning perspective conspicuously absent from the plethora of books on Dylan and the folk era of the 1960s: that of a woman witnessing it all from its cultural and political epicenter." —Todd Haynes, screenwriter and director of I’m Not There

“There have been a lot of books written about Greenwich Village in the sixties,and I've probably read all of them. What makes Suze's story so special is that she grew up in this neighborhood and she still lives here. She knows these crooked streets intimately, and they know her.” —Steve Earle


'I met Bob Dylan in 1961 when I was seventeen years old and he was twenty,' begins Suze Rotolo's wonderfully romantic story of their sweet but sometimes wrenching love affair and its eventual collapse under the pressure of Dylan's growing fame. It is Rotolo who is pictured with Dylan on the famous and iconic sleeve of his album "The Freewheelin Bob Dylan". She has never written about her time with him, and this memoir is therefore very eagerly anticipated.Set during the time when Dylan was writing the soundtrack to the cultural revolution of the 1960s, this is a unique and remarkable narrative of a place and time when art, culture and politics all seemed to be conspiring to make America freer, better and more equitable. With a supporting cast that includes Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez and Andy Warhol, this is the book not only Dylan fans but also anyone fascinated by the sixties will have been waiting for.This is an eagerly awaited memoir by the woman closest to Bob Dylan in the sixties. Every Dylan fan will be intrigued to read this book. Suze Rotolo has never written before about her time in the sixties - indeed, has been famously elusive to Dylan biographers.

The news event of this book's publication already trailed at length by national newspapers. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) HASH(0x962f70d8) von 5 Sternen 104 Rezensionen
68 von 70 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x94815648) von 5 Sternen Honest, truthful, sweet, generous, loaded with information and insight 26. Mai 2008
Von David Ozonoff - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Like almost all the reviewers so far I loved this book, and like some I was also in the same neighborhood as the events recorded in this wonderful book. In every instance where I knew someone or hung out at a place mentioned, the version here coincides exactly with what I remember but there is so much more I didn't know and so many people I only knew about second hand. This is a generous and kind book but also a starkly honest one. If you want to know what it was like then in Greenwich village in the 60s, then this is the best source I know of. Bob Dylan's persona in various documentaries comes off to many as arrogant but you will gain a new appreciation for him both as an artist and as a person from one who was closer to him than any other in his first years as an artist (1961 to 1964), when most of the events in the book take place. You will also understand what attracted him to Suze Rotolo. My memory of her was of a radiant smile and personality, but you will understand clearly from this book, as did Bob Dylan, that there was solid substance behind her wonderful smile.

I also want to recommend this book to today's generation, those under the age of 25 or so. There is a new spirit of idealism and creativity and I think you would find it profitable to read an account of an earlier era that also was pregnant with that kind of promise that had yet to come to fruition. As Suze Rotolo makes clear, it was a time when the exploding creativity and freedom of the sixties was still living within the husk of an older and much darker world. The old ways affected everyone, even the most bohemian denizens of Greenwich Village. There is great wisdom here about the conflicts and struggles that come when a young woman instinctively knows that conventional ways are limiting and stunting her as a person but there is no vocabulary and not yet the support of the nascent women's movement to help her.

If you have any interest at all in Bob Dylan, in Greenwich Village in the sixties, in the folkmusic revival of that period, in the struggles of politically and socially conscious young women in the immediate pre-feminist period or if you just want to enjoy yourself or learn some lessons for the present from experiences of the past you owe it to yourself to read this terrific book.
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HASH(0x9432db88) von 5 Sternen Could Be Final Word 16. Mai 2008
Von J. Michael Nace - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
I have followed Dylan since 1964 and his music. This book is a refreshing, vulnerable essay of Suze's life with Bob Dylan for 4 years. It is intimate, respectful, sensitive [she speaks of tears listening even to this day of his early records as she was there and says today they accurately portray Dylan] and includes much never-before-read material that is helpful in getting to know the man Dylan. She gives us keen insight into her feelings about their relationship, friends and her family, with extensive history of her family as well as her life before and after Bob Dylan. She is as important in this book as Bob is. It is understandably obvious she still has emotions and maybe even wounds about this relationship. After reading this book (and I have read others on Dylan) I had feelings of nostalgia, and then feelings of satisfaction as the book concluded with a sense of completion. If I ever meet Dylan I feel for the first time I could relate to him as a man and not relate to him as a myth or icon. I just returned from the Village in NYC and Suze's description of it is completely accurate. I was there in the 70s and it is a completely different place today. I believe this book is vulnerable and complete enough to be the final word on Dylan as a person from the early years by someone who knew him better than anyone else.
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HASH(0x943780e4) von 5 Sternen I can finally let go of the 60's 22. Mai 2008
Von A. Lane - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I really enjoyed this book. I was born in '63 and can only hope to get a feel through bios and countless viewings of Woodstock, Dont look Back and others. I was emotionally slammed by this book as it shows Suze to be a strong, intelligent, progressive and sensitive woman waaay ahead of her time. The relationship with Bob now makes perfect sense based on their sensibilities and sensitivities. The info shared is deeply personal without being excessive or embarrassing. Dylan's character and emotional state is revealed while the progression of Suze and Bob's relationship brought me close to tears several times. The non-linear time format kept things lively and interesting. One of the gifts for me was Suze's attitude that Greenwich Village is essentially a state of mind and that we can recreate it in the present if the desire and creative elements are there. The book also offered me insight into my own parents struggles in this country as second generation European immigrants. I blasted through this book and as a result have had to cleanse my mental palate a bit (happily). Thank you Suze Rotolo for sharing after all these years and for some good advice for the present.
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HASH(0x942fbb40) von 5 Sternen For Interested Parties Only 17. Juni 2008
Von Richard Boardman - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
I've always had a fascination with the folk movement centered in Greenwich Village in the early 60s, especially the incredible rise of Bob Dylan in that milieu. So, when I heard that Suze Rotolo, Dylan's girlfriend from that era, had written a book about her experiences during that time, I quickly placed my order. My feeling on completing it was that she is too guarded and careful here. She admits she doesn't want to upset Mr. Dylan and I also think that she doesn't wish to reveal too much of herself. Not that I wanted more dirt. I just wanted to know more things like what it felt like to have your famous boyfriend write and record a song lambasting your mother and sister (Ballad in Plain D). Yes, we do learn she had "mixed feelings" about the occurrence but I kinda coulda guessed that. She is too understanding when she hears from a third party about Bob's career-enhancing affair with Joan Baez. Come on Suze, go ahead and call him a two-timing [...]! Ms. Rotollo is careful to focus mostly on her life and not Bob's. Even though she has not achieved anywhere near the kind of things Dylan has, this could have worked if she had bared her soul. She describes some wacky dead ends she's taken (e.g. macrobiotic diet) but she does it with out tying it back to any flaws of her own. Suze seems like a lovely person, reminiscent of many of my best friends over the years. Fanatic that I am, I'm not at all sorry for having read her book and would suggest the same to like-minded folks. Just don't expect too much. Not to compare, but Dylan's own memoir "Chronicles Part I" stands on its own for anyone to read. Suze's book is for interested parties only.
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HASH(0x9431500c) von 5 Sternen A State of Mind 10. Juni 2008
Von Ceres - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
Most people will probably be drawn to this book because they are fans of Bob Dylan. Others will be drawn to it out of an interest in, or nostalgia for, Greenwich Village in the sixties. Those were certainly the reasons that I purchased it. And I certainly wasn't disappointed. Like other reviewers I journeyed to the Village in search of freedom from suburbia, first as a commuter and later as a resident, albeit half a decade after Ms. Rotolo left it. Time and again as I was reading it I recalled places and feelings from those times, made alive once again by Ms. Rotolo's splendid prose. And there was plenty of Dylan, as seen through Ms. Rotolo's eyes, as well as many of the other figures, some famous, some not, that played a role in shaping the those times.
But what I was not prepared for was how intrigued I was by Ms. Rotolo's own story. And even more by her reflections on the events of those years. Through these pages she has transformed herself from "the girl on the cover" to an individual of profound insight and feeling. From her memories of growing up in a communist household during the McCarthy era to her days as a "slum goddess" she has her own fascinating story to tell.
Ms. Rotolo ends her book by noting that the Greenwich Village of which she writes is no longer physically there. But she goes on to remind us that the real Village is a state of mind where "A compelling and necessary idea will always find a place to plant itself. The creative spirit finds a way."
That creative spirit reveals itself in this book. If you are nostalgic for the past or hopeful for the future I urge you to read this book.
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