Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Many Muses of Bob Dylan

These are mostly from the '60s and '70s-- when, I believe, he was most inspired.

Karen Dalton
Songs inspired: “Katie’s Been Gone


Musician Karen Dalton met Bob in Café Wha? in Greenwich Village, 1961. Bob was a fan: “My favorite singer in the place was Karen Dalton. Karen had a voice like Billie Holiday and played guitar like Jimmy Reed ... I sang with her a couple of times.” It’s unknown if they had a relationship.
The song wasn't actually written by Bob Dylan himself, but was by Manuel/Robinson on Basement Tapes by The Band and Bob Dylan. After a long struggle with drugs and alcohol, she passed away in 1993, reportedly of AIDS.

"Katie's been gone and now her face is slowly fading from my mind.
She's gone to find some newer places,
Left the old life far behind.
Dear Katie, don't ya miss your home?
I don't see why you had to roam.

Dear Katie, since you've been away
I lose a little something every day
I need you here, but you're still out there.
Dear Katie, please drop me a line,
just write, love, to tell me you're fine."

Suze Rotolo

  Suze Rotolo met Bob at a folk concert in 1961, when she was a political activist and artist. Said Bob: "Right from the start I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She was the most erotic thing I’d ever seen. She was fair skinned and golden haired, full-blood Italian. The air was suddenly filled with banana leaves. We started talking and my head started to spin. Cupid’s arrow had whistled past my ears before, but this time it hit me in the heart and the weight of it dragged me overboard... Meeting her was like stepping into the tales of 1001 Arabian Nights. She had a smile that could light up a street full of people and was extremely lively, had a kind of voluptuousness - a Rodin sculpture come to life." She introduced him to civil rights and nuclear war protesting, which he became famous for writing about. She remained politically active and married after she and Bob broke up, and had one child. She became an art/design teacher and after decades of silence, wrote a memoir of the '60s. She passed away of lung cancer in February 2011 at age 67.

"There's beauty in the silver, singin' river,
There's beauty in the rainbow in the sky,
But no one and nothing else can touch the beauty
That I remember in my true love's eyes.
Yes, and only if my own true love was waitin',
And if I could only hear her heart a-softly poundin',
Yes and only if she was lyin' by me,
Then I'd lie in my bed once again."

-from "Tomorrow Is A Long Time"

Joan Baez
Songs inspired:
By Joan- “To Bobby” and ”Diamonds & Rust

Baez first met Dylan in 1961 at Gerde's Folk City in Greenwich Village. At the time, Baez had already released her debut album and was quickly becoming the "Queen of Folk".  She was impressed by his songs, and covered many of them. While on tour, Baez would invite Dylan to sing on stage partly by himself and partly with her. By the time of Dylan's 1965 tour of the U.K., their relationship had slowly begun to fizzle out after they had been romantically involved off and on for nearly two years. Joan goes on recording and writing music today.

"I am not askin' you to say words like 'yes' or 'no,'
Please understand me, I got no place for you t' go.
I'm just breathin' to myself, pretendin' not that I don't know,
Mama, you been on my mind.

When you wake up in the mornin', baby, look inside your mirror.
You know I won't be next to you, you know I won't be near.
I'd just be curious to know if you can see yourself as clear
As someone who has had you on his mind."

- Bob Dylan's "Mama, You Been On My Mind."
"Now you're telling me
You're not nostalgic
Then give me another word for it
You who are so good with words
And at keeping things vague
Because I need some of that vagueness now
It's all come back too clearly
Yes I loved you dearly
And if you're offering me diamonds and rust
I've already paid "

- Joan Baez's "Diamonds & Rust"

Edie Sedgwick
Songs (rumored to be) Inspired: “Just Like a Woman,” “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat,” and “Like A Rolling Stone

  Bob met Warhol socialite, model, and actress Edie Sedgwick when she was living at the Chelsea Hotel in 1965, where he was also living. She grew a great crush on him, only to find out that he was married to Sara Lownds. She pretty much fell apart, and shot Ciao! Manhattan before marrying in 1971, then overdosing and dying that same same year.

"Once upon a time you dressed so fine,
Threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you ?
People'd call, say, "Beware doll, you're bound to fall,"
You thought they were all kiddin' you.
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin' out.
Now you don't talk so loud,
Now you don't seem so proud,
About having to be scrounging your next meal.

How does it feel?
How does it feel?
To be without a home?
Like a complete unknown?
Like a rolling stone?"

 - From "Like A Rolling Stone"

Sara Lownds

Sara Lownds met Bob in Greenwich Village in late ’62, when she was already married, a former model, stage actress, and Playboy bunny. They both moved into the New York Hotel Chelsea in 1964 and married soon after. Bob reportedly  "depended on her advice as if she were his astrologer, his oracle, his seer, his psychic guide. He would rely on her to tell him the best hour and the best day to travel." They had four children, but divorced in 1977.

"With your mercury mouth in the missionary times,
And your eyes like smoke and your prayers like rhymes,
And your silver cross, and your voice like chimes,
Oh, who among them do they think could bury you?
With your pockets well protected at last,
And your streetcar visions which you place on the grass,
And your flesh like silk, and your face like glass,
Who among them do they think could carry you?
Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands,
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes,
My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums,
Should I leave them by your gate,
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?"

 - From "Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands"

And the muse that almost was:
Marianne Faithfull
Song Inspired: … We shall never know!

Marianne Faithfull hung around Dylan’s crowd as a 17-year-old in 1964, and he spent many days writing a poem/song for her. Then she told him she was pregnant and engaged to John Dunbar and he furiously ripped his work up and sent her away.

The first thing I thought when I found this out was not how awkward this makes Bob look (ha!) but how epic the song would’ve been. I mean, come on.


Tonya said...

Lovely post. Im a big bob fan :)
He actually came close to where I lived this past summer for a concert and my boyfriend and I got to see him perform!!
Even though he didn't have the same rustic, unique sounds anymore it was incredible to see such a legend in this generation.
Great post yet again :)


Kaitlyn said...

Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoy my posts. :)
That is so amazing that you got to see him perform, I'm so jealous! :) I'm a fairly new fan, and he is truly a GOD of the 60s/70s.

infoanalysis said...

To see what a cruel and sadistic misogynist Dylan was check out this link.


Suzy had a suicide attempt shortly after a break up and Edie was more successful

Creativity has its price

Anonymous said...

Truth is no poem by anyone could be up to some women's beauty. But poets keep trying. Which is beautiful.