March 1st, 2011
I was saddened to hear news of the death of Suze Rotolo. Strange thing, really. You get to a certain age when the obituary columns start to fill with characters who have populated your world. Hardly a month goes by now without someone passing away whose records I own, whose films I have seen, sporting triumphs I have admired, books I have read or even whose names and achievements I have just subliminally noted as part of the fabric of the times I have lived through. Such moments give pause to reflect on mortality, time, achievement, loss…but even for my own particular heroes, I am rarely perturbed by the spectre of death, except on tragic occasions when someone is cut down in the prime of life. Suze Rotolo was 67. Not so old, perhaps, but not young; older than my own father when he died. And the truth is, I knew little of her. Indeed, unless you were family or a friend, she is unlikely to have figured strongly in your life. She was an artist and political activist, but essentially a private person, who intersected with the wider world at only one moment in her life, aged 19, hanging on the arm of a young, suede-jacketed folk singer, smiling happily on a cold New York morning, for the cover of the classic 1963 album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.
It’s the singularity of this image that, I think, made her death register quite so intensely,
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