Monday, May 28, 2018

Marking Yesterday's 55th Anniversary of the Release of Bob Dylan's Freewheelin' with Suze Rotolo's Letter to Her Mother

"Whatever gets you through the night, it's alright, alright." 
--John Lennon

I read the news today, oh boy. Yesterday was the 55th anniversary of Bob Dylan's second album, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, just three days after his 22nd birthday. Reading this made me want to share the Suze Rotolo letter to her mother which Bill Pagel currently has on display at Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in Duluth through the end of August.

As nearly every Dylanophile knows, Suze Rotolo was the girl who appeared on the cover of this first album of mostly original songs, many of which appear later on the Witmark Demos, Bootleg Series #9. (In a memorable scene in the movie Vanilla Sky David Aames [Tom Cruise] has transfigured this album cover into an eternal memory with Sofia [Penelope Cruz] as his Suze Rotolo while the tune Fourth Time Around plays.)

SINCE Suze is today's centerpiece, I commend to you Phil Fitzpatrick's moving tribute to this early Bob Muse.


SUZE ROTOLO TO HER MOTHER

July 10, 1962
Mary Rotolo
One Sheridan Square
New York, N.Y  19

Mother, I have lost all faith in being honest to you because you never give Bob a chance. Why can't the two of you even attempt to get along? The constant criticism you have of him only sets the stage for further arguments and disention (sic).  I've talked about this situation with Carla and she agrees that you often put Bob down in his presence while you entertain your friends. Mom - this is not ammusing (sic). Carla told me about the incident that took place last week when you took exception to Bob calling you Mary. You went on a tirade by telling him his parents never taught him manners and that he was never to address her as  anything but "Mrs. Rotolo". Then you turned to Mrs. Evans and remarked, "This is the jerk Bob Zimmerman Dylan, the one Suze likes." I can't believe you acted tis (sic) way. I told you on the telephone when I called you from Rome last week that Bob (once again) hinted at marriage. You told me that I should give this a lot of thought butthat you would be behind any decision I made. Mom, this is not exactly what I call being supportive. All he was trying to do was be friendly. Carla also told me that after Bob left you revealed to Mrs. Evans of the possibility that the two of us might get married. Instead of talking about your daughters (sic) happiness all you raved about was that there were plenty of good catholic boys and that I have no sence (sic). Please consider my feelings for a change. I've always been a good daughter and never gave you any problems. I know that if Dad was still alive he would have at least given Bob a chance. Mom, can you honestly say that you have given him an opportunity to prove himself? I think not. I have been a little homesick lately and go to sleep crying because I miss you and Bob so much. Just give him a chance and I'm sure you'll see the very qualities that made me fall in love with him. Also, please don't get mad at Carla for her telling me what goes on at home.


LOVE ALWAYS XXXXXX
(signed) Susan

In the P.S. she adds that she is sending a couple drawings 

* * * *

When you look at the playlist from Freewheelin', Dylan's second album, it's breathtaking. The lame sales on Dylan's first album, which only sold 5,000 copies in its first year, resulted in his being tagged Hammond's Folly. This second album certified that John Hammond really did recognize something golden when he signed this kid from heartland -- your land, our land -- or whatever land he was from.

After a whirlwind week here (Duluth Dylan Fest 2018 is now past tense) I was out in my garage organizing my art studio while listening to Freewheelin' and all its associations. Hard to believe those songs have been with us for more than half a century. Some have even defined our generation.

Make it a meaningful day. 

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