September 25th, 2012 / 11:30 pm

Curbside Romance

Suze Rotolo, who appeared on the cover The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963) was Bob Dylan’s girlfriend between 1961-1964, but because he’s an artist, is considered a muse. That muse is merely love’s exacerbation may be the most sneaky euphemism of all. “Don’t think twice, It’s alright,” whose damn cold lyrics include I ain’t saying you treated me unkind / You could have done better but I don’t mind / You just kinda wasted my precious time was written in emotional defiance over Suze’s considering moving to Italy permanently. We’ve all done this before: diminished someone’s feelings on behalf of our own. He knocked her up, she had an abortion, they broke up. Some years later, in 1971, another couple appeared under fateful film, this time in New Haven Connecticut via Yale. They were both law students destined for politics, both of whose word bending and rhetorical capacities, if not imperatives, give both philosophy and creative writing a useful and more utilitarian poke. One remembers Clinton’s “it depends on what the meaning of the word is, is” as he dug a hole straight into phenomenological territory. The Heideggerian “is,” it turns out, was just sex, the milkshake of human civilization. The president blew a stressed-out wad on an intern, a projectile as morally devastating to this country as a few planes some years later. Suze indeed moves to Italy and marries an Italian director. In his follow-up album, The Songs of Bob Dylan, recorded in a single evening in June of 1964, Dylan would recount his falling out with her in “The Ballad of Plain D,” succinctly beginning with I once loved a girl… only to continue, verse after verse, for a treacherous 8:18 min. It is unlikely that Bill and Hillary got dressed up that day, coordinated in a suede and green jacket, in the fashion of an album cover. It is also unlikely that they knew they would almost change the world by simply trying to. A cynic will tell you the election is an illusion of choice, which is why cynics are rarely remembered. The greatest muse is history as it happens, the notion of one’s part in it. On Tuesday November 6, 2012, in the spirit of American antagonism, people will vote against their enemies all the while imagining themselves standing by each other, or better yet leaning in.


  1. Mike Young

      great last sentence, jimmy!

  2. deadgod

      as morally devastating

      A cynic might bank on a false equivalence. A kidder would kid.

  3. herocious

      I don’t know which Dylan song is colder:
      “Don’t think twice, It’s alright,” or “Positively 4th Street.” I love both equally.

  4. Nicole Walker