A Freewheelin’ Time by Suze Rotolo

A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the SixtiesOne 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

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  1. madeleinebbc

     /  November 13, 2011

    I thought the most interesting parts of this book were the bits that had nothing whatever to do with Dylan, or the 60’s music scene; her early experiences as a foreign student in Italy, and later when protesting against the ban on US citizens travelling to Cuba, for example. At these times a real story was being told, which I felt quite involved in. The rest of the book seemed to consist of lists of people, with a two-line anecdote for each that failed to link with anything else. I felt she was using the book as a way of making Dylan’s apologies for him, for upsetting the Folk Music fraternity for his movement into the Big Time.

  2. michelebbc

     /  November 4, 2011

    I didn’t think was was brilliant writing by any means but still found myself feeling moved by the description of a first romance with all it’s complications and insecurities compounded by the growing fame of Bob Dylan. This book is more about Suze and her life so if you are a Dylan fan looking for more about him then this probably isn’t for you.


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