Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Suze Rotolo, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Kris Kristofferson

Earlier this week, Joan Baez and Kris Kristofferson sang in duet as the closing act of the David Letterman Show.  They're on tour together in November.  She's 70 and he's 75.

Baez was Bob Dylan's love interest in competition with Suze Rotolo, whose book I read again after posting about it here last week.  I didn't realize then that Rotolo had died earlier this year.  When I discovered that, just this week, I felt an immediate sense of loss--illogical, I know, but there just the same.

She is survived by her husband and a son.  Rotolo married the love of her life after the sixties ended, in 1970, her one marriage lasting the forty years until her death.  She dedicated her memoir to her son, Luca, "so he will know" and to her husband, Enzo, "who always did."

Listen to her now, from her 2008 memoir, A Freewheelin' Time:
"In these times, seeing Bob Dylan's life and work and the people he was close to documented or fictionalized on film, on display in museum exhibits and other commemorations in all categories, only intensifies the feeling I have of possessing a parallel life.  It is an odd sensation to see myself on the screen, under glass, and written about in books, forever enshrined and entombed alongside the Legend of Bob Dylan.'

"When I look at the pictures and hear the songs I also see and hear the story behind them.  A still photograph morphs into a home movie and a scrawl on a page evokes a scene in a room or on a street.  I hear a laugh coming from somewhere off to the side...'

"It has taken me many years top allow my parallel lives to converge.  But there will always be a space between the image and the reality because ghosts live there and they cannot be contained under glass. . .Life goes on for those who live it in the present.'

"I see history as a reliquary--a container where relics are kept and displayed for contemplation.  So much has been written about the sixties that the more distant those years become, the more mythic the tales and the times seem to be.  Facts and statistics are pliable.  Truth and accuracy are truly Rashomon-like.  Each story is true from the teller's perspective; the weight shifts.'

"My decision to add my relics was not an easy one.  Hindsight meddles with memory, after all, so the best I can do in writing about those long-ago years is to try to make them recognizable."

Rotolo certainly inspired many of Bob Dylan's best songs, perhaps including "I Threw It All Away."

I once held her
in my arms
She said that she'd always stay.
But I was cruel,
I treated her like a fool.
I threw it all away.

Once I had mountains
in the palm of my hand
and rivers that ran through
every day.
I must have been mad.
I never knew what I had.
I threw it all away.

Love is all there is
that makes the world go round.
Love and only love,
it can't be denied.
No matter what you think about it,
you just can't learn to live without it.
Take a tip from one who's tried.

So If you find someone
who gives you all of their love.
Take it to your heart,
don't let it stray.
Cause one thing for certain:
You will surely be a-hurtin
if you throw it all away.
Like I threw it all away.

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