Suze Rotolo is the woman on the cover of album, The Free Wheelin' Bob Dylan and was his first real love. "Right from the start I couldn't take my eyes off of her", Dylan wrote. " She was the most erotic thing I'd ever seen..... Cupid's arrow had whistled past my ear before, but this time it hit me in the heart and dragged me overboard."
He was only 20 and she 18, but Suze was already working for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and very active in politics and theatre in the Village. She introduced him to poets like Rimbaud and the plays of Bertolt Brecht on which she was working and their influence can be readily heard in his songs. Bob hadn't written about race or the nuclear bomb before Suze entered his life, but she opened his eyes and ears and he digested it all and wrote songs like The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll, A Hard Rains Gonna Fall and Blowin' in the Wind.
Her family didn't take to Dylan and her mother took her away to Europe for an extended time. While gone, Dylan wrote songs about her like Don't Think Twice, Its Alright and Boots of Spanish Leather. She returned to him, but an abortion, his rising fame and his affair with Joan Baez doomed the relationship.
Suze went back to her life of art and social justice, married and had a child. She refused for years to discuss her relationship with Dylan, but did write a book in 2004 entitled, Free-Wheelin' Times, about the art and political scene in the Village in the '60's. "We had something to say, not to sell", she wrote. Suze died in 2011.