[Please note: The original inspiration for this post was the above photo, which I saw online and which was misidentified as being a photo of Bob Dylan, Suze Rotolo and her older sister Carla Rotolo. After the post went up it was brought to my attention that the woman identified as Carla Rotolo was actually Lena Sepncer, who ran the club Cafe Lena. Since the post was already live I edited it accordingly.]
The above photo by Joe Alper, taken in the early ’60s, is of Bob Dylan, his one-time girlfriend Suze Rotolo (the girl with Dylan on the cover of The Freewheelin’Bob Dylan) and Lena Spencer, who ran the Caffe Lena club in Saratoga Springs, NY where Dylan played.
Here is a video which includes a picture of Suze’s older sister, Carla.
In Suze Rotolo’s book, “A Freewheelin’ Time,” in a section called “Ballad” she writes:
For a long time my mother had made it clear she didn’t think much of Bobby. By the time Freewheelin’ came out, she and Fred had long since moved to New Jersey. It was easier all around to avoid contact… My mother had objected to Bob from the moment she laid eyes on him back in 1961, but the animosity between my sister and Bob developed over time. Both my mother and Carla were running interference on our relationship, and he couldn’t help resenitng that. I couldnt handle the constant pressure…”
Here are some of the lyrics from Dylan’s “Ballad In Plain D,” which appeared on Another Side Of Bob Dylan in 1964. Dylan had never performed this song live.
Through young summer’s breeze, I stole her away
From her mother and sister, though close did they stay
Each one of them suffering from the failures of their day
With strings of guilt they tried hard to guide us
Of the two sisters, I loved the young
With sensitive instincts, she was the creative one
The constant scapegoat, she was easily undone
By the jealousy of others around her
For her parasite sister, I had no respect
Bound by her boredom, her pride to protect
Countless visions of the other she’d reflect
As a crutch for her scenes and her society
You can check out all of the lyrics here.
Thanks to BlindBoy ElstonGunn for sharing this photo!
[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]