Bob Dylan, one of the greatest American singer-songwriters perhaps of all time, has had a long and storied career that has spanned more than six decades. Known for his thought-provoking lyrics and unique musical style, Dylan has become an icon in the world of music. Throughout his life, he links to several famous women, but there is one who stands out among the rest as the love of his life. Her identity may surprise you, and the story of their relationship is as captivating as any of his songs. So, who was this mystery woman who captured the heart of this legendary musician? Stay tuned to find out.
Facts Verse Presents: Bob Dylan Confesses She Was the Love of His Life
Before we reveal who the “All Along The Watchtower” singer-songwriter said was the love of his life, let’s take a few minutes to briefly recap Dylan’s romantic history. Up first, we’re going to be talking about a woman who served as the inspiration behind many of Bob’s greatest songs.
Suze Rotolo, Bob Dylan’s early-Sixties girlfriend, who famously walked alongside him on the cover of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, passed away on February 25, 2011, after a long illness.
Rotolo was only 17 when she and Dylan started dating in 1961, shortly after his arrival in New York City. She served as Dylan’s muse for many of his early love songs, including “Tomorrow Is a Long Time”, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” and “Boots of Spanish Leather”.
“Chronicles Volume One”
In Dylan’s memoir “Chronicles Volume One”, published in 2004, he wrote about meeting Rotolo backstage at a concert and being immediately smitten with her. They began living together in early 1962 as a love of his life, in a small apartment in New York City’s West 4th Street. Rotolo’s left-wing politics and her work with CORE, The Congress of Racial Equality, played a significant role in Dylan’s political awakening.
Rotolo also inspired Dylan’s early protest song “The Death of Emmett Till,” after telling him about the shocking 1955 murder of Till. She also provided critical feedback on many of Dylan’s early songs, checking them for accuracy and political sensibility. However, Dylan’s rising fame and the pressure that came with it strained their relationship, and they split up for good in late 1963. After the breakup, Rotolo remained in New York City and pursued a career as a teacher, painter, and book illustrator. She also authored a memoir in 2009 entitled A Freewheelin’ Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties, which detailed her relationship with Dylan and her experiences in the vibrant folk music scene of the era.
Bob Dylan and Joan Baez were musical partners and friends for decades, but for a a few years, they were also lovers. They were both iconic and influential musicians, helping each other grow as artists and inspiring each other to create timeless music. Without Baez, Dylan may never have gone electric and become the legend that he is today. Similarly, without Dylan, Baez may never have discovered her own voice and become the timeless icon that she is today.
The two started dating reportedly in 1961 but their romantic relationship ended abruptly in 1965, with Dylan being the one to end things. While the exact reason why they separate ways is unknown, it speculated that it had something to do with Dylan’s transition to electric music and Baez feeling left behind. Despite the breakup, they remained close friends and continued to collaborate on stage and in the studio.
“Joan Baez: How Sweet the Sound”
Dylan later apologized for his regrettable behavior during their relationship, but that apology was not made public until the PBS documentary “Joan Baez: How Sweet the Sound.” aired in 2009. In the film, Dylan said, “I’m sorry” for ending their relationship and explained that he did it in part to keep her from being caught up in the madness of his all-over-the-place career.
Despite their past, Baez and Dylan largely avoided each other when they performed at the 2010 White House Civil Rights Concert. However, Baez continued to paint portraits of celebrities, including Dylan, and even sang about their breakup in her ballad “Diamonds.” Dylan, on the other hand, expressed his admiration for Baez’s unique guitar style and heart-breaking soprano voice in his own documentary about her.
Joan Baez and Bob Dylan’s relationship was a significant part of each other’s lives and music careers, shaping them both as artists and people. While their romantic relationship may have ended, their mutual respect and artistic collaborations continue to inspire and influence musicians today.
Throughout his dating history Bob Dylan has been notorious for often being thoughtless and having a tendency to withdraw suddenly from people close to him. His first wife, Sara Lownds, was no exception.
Bob Dylan and Lownds met in 1964 while she married at the time to magazine photographer Hans Lownds. Likewise, Dylan ,a romantically involved with Joan Baez when he first took an interest in her.
According to Victor Maymudes, Dylan’s old tour manager, Dylan shocked him when he revealed he was marrying Sara instead of Joan Baez. When asked why he was choosing Lownds over Baez, Dylan explained that Sara would be there when he needed her to be, unlike Joan, who wouldn’t always be available.
Dylan and Lownds tied the knot in 1965 shortly after she divorced Hans and Dylan left Baez. Sara ended up having a profound impact on Dylan. She transformed him into a family man who dedicated to his wife and children.
Match Made In Heaven
Dylan spoke highly of her in his memoir and immortalized her in many of his songs. During the period when Dylan became more introspective as a person and a songwriter, he wrote songs about his desire for a home life but also his urge to keep moving.
While at first their relationship seemed a match made in heaven, their marriage faced challenges when Dylan started drinking, cheating, and instigating fights over home improvements. They eventually separated, but there was still hope, at least in Dylan’s mind, of rekindling their relationship.
In 1975, while putting the finishing touches on his album Desire, Dylan played a song he had written for Lownds fittingly called ‘Sara’ when she came to visit him at Columbia studios. He sang it directly to her trying his best to serenade her with the song that proudly declared her to be the “love of his life” while she sat with an expressionless face. It was obvious that Dylan was doing everything that he could to reach her but she seemed to be utterly unmoved, leading everyone else who was in the studio at the time to undoubtedly feel quite uncomfortable. While some claim that she later welcomed him back, their relationship ultimately ended for good.
Years later, Dylan remarked that he wasn’t a good husband, but he believes to this day that the relationship wasn’t a total failure as it led to him becoming a better father. His song ‘Sara’ shows the depth of his devotion to her, and some believe that his song ‘To Make You Feel My Love,’ released 20 years after their separation, may also have been about the love he still harbored for her.
Dylan’s Other Loves
As we already established at the start of this video, Bob Dylan’s relationship history is quite extensive. In addition to his well-known relationships with Sara Lownds, Joan Baez, and Suze Rotolo, he has had affairs with several other notable women. He reportedly had a brief encounter with French singer-songwriter Françoise Hardy in the mid-1960s and wrote “I Want You” for her. Dylan was rumored to have been involved with socialite and actress Edie Sedgwick in 1965, who was also a muse for Andy Warhol and inspired songs such as “Just Like a Woman” and “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat.”
In the 1970s, Dylan had a relationship with actress Sally Kirkland, who appeared in his film Renaldo and Clara and sang backup vocals on his album Desire. He also had a relationship with actress and singer Ronee Blakely, who co-starred with him in the film and sang a duet with him on the song “Hurricane.” In the late 1970s, Dylan proposed to soul singer Mavis Staples, but she turned him down.
A Palimony Suit Settled Out Of Court
Dylan was additionally involved with former Beatles assistant and music industry insider Chris O’Dell in the late 1970s, which she later wrote about in her memoir. He had a long-term relationship with former model and actress Ruth Tyrangiel from 1974 to 1994, which ended in a palimony suit settled out of court.
In 1986, Dylan married his backup singer Carolyn Dennis, and they had a daughter together, but divorced in 1992, keeping their marriage secret until 2001. He also dated his backup singer Helena Springs in the late 1980s and early 90s, and they co-wrote songs such as “Tight Connection to My Heart” and “Seeing the Real You at Last.”
Universal Music Group
As of now, Bob Dylan is believed to be single, but he continues to release music and recently sold his entire catalog of songs to Universal Music Group in 2020 for an estimated $300 million. Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016 for his contributions to American songwriting.
While Dylan no doubt has much to be proud of when it comes to his musical career and professional accomplishments, it’s hard not to wonder if he still sometimes thinks about Sara Lownds. After all, he did consider her – at least at one point – to be the love of his life. But then again, even if their relationship has lasted longer then it then it did, it’s reasonable to assume that it would have still eventually came to an end. After all, Dylan’s never really been a ‘one-woman-man’, now has has he?
On that note, we’re going to go ahead and wrap this video up, but before you move on to watching another one of our facts-packed videos, we’d love to hear from you. Did you know that Bob Dylan considered Sara Lownds to be the love of his life and that he even left Joan Baez for her? Let us know in the comments. And as always, thanks for watching!