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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Freewheelin’ Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the

(Broadway), by Suze Rotolo

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  It could be worse. At least Suze Rotolo is a likable writer. Near the end of her memoir we finally get the story behind the famous album cover of Rotolo walking alongside Bob Dylan for the folk singer’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. A Freewheelin’ Time could have revealed something about the folk-blues revival of the early 1960s and its most enduring artist, but instead spends most of its pages on Rotolo’s artwork (including baubles that hang from ladies’ boots, rejected by Bloomingdale’s at the time) and politics (hanging out in Cuba back in the day and treating Dylan as a fan treats Dylan). We have a charming but boring person on a record jacket writing a book as though she was part of the album’s music. Credit Rotolo for her voice of humility. She says she wrote the book because everyone kept asking about the story of that album cover, even though she spends only four pages writing about the photo shoot, since she had little to do with it.

  We are a culture of “American Idol” voyeurs, and now have one more window to peek through. Rotolo was a bystander, although a very pleasant one. The VW Bus to Dylan’s left on the LP jacket will soon be on eBay, no doubt, replete with an assertion of provenance by the author of this book.

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