Comrades From The North
In this edition of The Bridge we mark the passing of Suze Rotolo who shed these mortal coils on February 24th 2011. Suze, who many uninformed observers myopically describe as Dylan's former girlfriend, was very much more than that. Steadfast, committed and true she later became an artist and taught in design school. Most recently she wrote a thoroughly readable tome A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties that radiated integrity. On the young Bob Dylan she exerted a magnetic influence and the attraction was clearly two-way. Their relationship directly spawned such classic songs as Don't Think Twice, It's All Right, Boots Of Spanish Leather and Tomorrow Is A Long Time. Dylan also penned Ballad In Plain D that chronicled what he described as the malign influence of "her parasite sister" Carla for whom he spared no bile. This song has been almost-universally derided over the years but, born of spite and imperfect though it is, we would contend is worthy of re-evaluation. Any-one fancy taking that one on? Manufactured peace anyone?
Through sheer serendipity the latest extract from the Dylan-Shelton 1966 interview, published elsewhere in this edition, references Suze twice. In a biting exchange about Suze and Carla, Dylan clearly makes it known that she still means a lot to him:
"Suze, any time she ever wants anything, she could always come to me".
Later in the interview in a discussion about Joan Baez, Shelton becomes somewhat vitriolic when he describes am incident at Newport which can be read on page 35.
Moving on, in February it was a case of another year, another Grammy Awards as this year's event saw Dylan performing a passable version of Maggie's Farm backed up by the massed instrumentation and considerable vocal support of the rather wonderful Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers. Dylan wandered on-stage, looking a bit lost as usual and sang his classic opus sans guitar at a stand-up microphone later adding some blues harmonica. His vocal was poor, the ever-increasingly gravelly voice adding little colour, shade or texture to the song but it was no perfunctory performance.
By the time you receive this issue, Dylan will be on the road again in the Far East and the Antipodes. If that's where you are then we hope that you catch a show.
May you climb on every rung ..........
Mike & John
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