A Tour of Bob Dylan’s Greenwich Village
I recently read a book called, “A Freewheelin’ Time—A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties.” It was written by Suze Rotolo who was Bob Dylan’s girlfriend in the early sixties and lived with him on West 4th Street in Greenwich Village. I thought it would be fun to visit some of the places mentioned in the memoir, take photos and include a sprinkling of Rotolo’s memories from the times that were-a-changing. The sections in the captions pulled from the book are italicized.
We'll walk right down Sixth Avenue to Greenwich Village.
And here we are at West 4th Street. Positively!
Bob Dylan’s first apartment in Greenwich Village—161 W. 4th Street
And then Columbia Records signed him [Dylan] delivering him the first heady whiffs of fame. At last some decent money was in the offing, and he began looking for an apartment of his own. 161 W. 4th Street was a small four story building just west of 6th Avenue.
I read online he paid 60 bucks a month to live in the top floor apartment of this building. I'd hate to guess how much it is a month now. The cover of the album, "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" was shot a couple blocks from here and I want to take a shot of that street, but first there's something I have to do.
The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan Cover on Jones Street
What I need to do is buy a copy of that record. I'm hoping they have one in here at Bleecker Street Records.
There's Bob in the window, so that's a good sign!
And here's the Bob Dylan section...
And yes, they have the album! Now it's back to where they shot this legendary cover!
And here we are on Jones Street where the album cover was shot, just a block away from Bob Dylan's and Suze Rotolo's apartment. I tried holding the cover up with the street, but it just didn't work. Then I thought, "Hey, you've got Photoshop, bring them back to the future!" So that's what I did below.
I huddled up to Bob as we walked up and down Jones Street per instructions from [photographer] Don and encouraging smiles from Billy. Bob stuck his hands in the pockets of his jeans and leaned into me. We walked the length of Jones Street facing West Fourth with Bleecker Street at our backs. I was never given a release to sign or paid anything. It never dawned on me to ask.
Bleecker Street was the Times Square of Greenwich Village because of all the tourists who gravitated to the numerous clubs and bars, especially on the weekends.
The Bitter End—147 Bleecker Street
The Bitter End was on street level, around the corner from the Gaslight, on the more touristy Bleecker Street, and had a bigger stage with a real backstage for the performers to hang out. If there was a pecking order to these up-and-coming folk and stand-up comedy places in the early 1960s, the Bitter End was just below the more established Village Gate, also on Bleecker.
Here's some ads from the past in the window at The Bitter End.
July 23rd is the official Bitter End Day in New York, I need to put that on my calendar.
There's no escaping Bob in Greenwich Village. Here he is on a bookstore table sandwiched between books by David Sedaris and Joseph Campbell.
Cafe Wha?—115 MacDougal Street
MacDougal Street meant passing all those other clubs and coffeehouses: The Gaslight, The Figaro, Rienzi’s, Fat Black Pussy Cat, Cafe Wha?, and numerous others.
Cafe Wha? is reportedly the first place Dylan played when he arrived in New York City on January 24, 1961. The legend has it that it was a snowy night and Dylan came into the club on a hootenanny night and the club wasn’t too full. Dylan asked the owner, Manny Roth if he could play and Manny gave him the nod. Dylan sang some Woody Guthrie songs and was on his way. Recently reformed Van Halen played a set here before releasing their latest album and embarking on a new tour. It makes sense since Manny Roth is singer David Lee Roth’s uncle. I don’t think Van Halen did a Woody Guthrie number in their set, though.
While walking to the last stop in this tour, I spied an old Newsweek with a Bob Dylan cover in the window of Rebel Rebel record store.
White Horse Taven—567 Hudson Street
At the White Horse I was introduced to the paralyzing effect of Irish whiskey when I drank Irish coffee, Ireland’s cappucino. Paddy, Tom and Liam Clancy, the Irish folksingers who performed as the Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem, occupied a table in the back room most nights. Already very well known, they sang and told stories and had a good time along with everyone else who ended their evenings at the White Horse.
The White Horse Tavern is a classic Greenwich Village bar.
And there's a familiar face behind the bar.
It's bartender Bob, who I met two years ago on my 365 day bar crawl! Bob remembered me and was pleased I had successfully finished that mission.
White horses look down and gallop on the wooden beam above the bar.
White horse heads adorn the chandeliers illuminating the tavern.
A 3-D piece of art recreates the tavern in the corner of the bar.
And I need to show another Dylan at the end of this tour: A painting of Dylan Thomas at the White Horse Tavern back in the day who reportedly drank himself to death at the White Horse Tavern.