By John Barry
Bob Dylan lived on West 4th Street in the early ‘60s just before he catapulted to fame. His apartment was located at 161 West 4th St, just west of Sixth Avenue. Whether his seminal song, “Positively 4th Street” referred to this location or from his Minnesota origins is still a matter of conjecture, but no doubt he probably penned many of his early original songs at this location.
His second album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, which debuted in 1963, shows an impossibly young Dylan with his then girlfriend, Suze Rotolo on the cover, standing in the middle of a cold looking and slush covered Jones Street, very near this apartment.
I had lived on Jones Street for many years before I became aware of this cover shot, and only discovered it incidentally after doing a Google search of my street. Since then this fact has been published in NYC guide books. Now Dylan-loving couples flock to Jones Street to juxtapose themselves in the same positions as Bob and Suze, similar to Beatle fans flocking to the Abbey Road location in London to reenact that eponymous Beatle album cover. A number of times I have been asked to take a couple’s photo reenacting the Dylan cover shot.
Incidentally the Record Runner store, which is at the exact location of the original photo, has the album in its window, so if you’re so inclined to do some reenacting yourself, you can use the album as a positioning reference.
Also if you have an interest in this era of the Village, there is probably no better source than Suze’s book, A Freewheelin’ Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties, which was published a few years before her recent passing.