Bring back some good or bad memories


September 1, 2022

Bob Dylan and Suze Rotolo During the Freewheelin’ Cover Shoot on West 4th Street in New York City, 1963

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan is the second studio album by Bob Dylan, released on May 27, 1963 by Columbia Records. Whereas his self-titled debut album Bob Dylan had contained only two original songs, this album represented the beginning of Dylan’s writing contemporary words to traditional melodies.

The album cover features a photograph of Dylan with Suze Rotolo. It was taken in February 1963 by CBS staff photographer Don Hunstein as Dylan and Rotolo walked in the middle of Jones Street, approximately 50 feet from West 4th Street in the West Village, New York City, close to the apartment where the couple lived at the time.

“It was winter, dirty snow on the ground…”, the photographer told The New York Times in 1997. “Well, I can’t tell you why I did it, but I said, ‘Just walk up and down the street.’ There wasn’t very much thought to it. It was late afternoon — you can tell that the sun was low behind them. It must have been pretty uncomfortable, out there in the slush.”

Hunstein had to work fast. “[T]he light was fading so quickly that I was able to shoot only one color roll and a few black and whites. We were lucky to get what got we got,” he concluded.

In 2008, Rotolo described the circumstances surrounding the famous photo to The New York Times: “He wore a very thin jacket, because image was all. Our apartment was always cold, so I had a sweater on, plus I borrowed one of his big, bulky sweaters. On top of that I put on a coat. So I felt like an Italian sausage. Every time I look at that picture, I think I look fat.”

In her memoir, A Freewheelin’ Time, Rotolo analyzed the significance of the cover art: “It is one of those cultural markers that influenced the look of album covers precisely because of its casual down-home spontaneity and sensibility. Most album covers were carefully staged and controlled, to terrific effect on the Blue Note jazz album covers ... and to not-so great-effect on the perfectly posed and clean-cut pop and folk albums. Whoever was responsible for choosing that particular photograph for The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan really had an eye for a new look.”

Dee Anne Schroeder, who had been married to Don Hunstein for more than 50 years, looked back in 2007: “An awful lot of people know that picture and didn’t connect it with Don’s name. I think that the album cover does give him credit… but people never paid much attention to album cover photos (or)… the photographers.

“That still remains one of the most popular pictures and a lot of people want it. A lot of people write the story, what that picture means to them. They say, yes, it brings back part of their youth. Even young people today, they look back, it says to them: here are these young people walking… in the middle of a harsh environment. It has become a kind of symbol of youth starting off in a harsh environment, but with hope for the future.”

Critic Janet Maslin summed up the iconic impact of the cover as “a photograph that inspired countless young men to hunch their shoulders, look distant, and let the girl do the clinging.”




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