Shirley Marlin Noznisky
October 25, 1939
Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.
|Other names||Sara Lownds|
|Spouse(s)||Hans Lownds (m. 1959; div. c. 1961/1962)|
(m. 1965;div. 1977)
|Children||5, including Jesse and Jakob Dylan|
Sara Dylan (born Shirley Marlin Noznisky; October 25, 1939) is an American former actress and model who was the first wife of singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. In 1959, Noznisky was wed to magazine photographer Hans Lownds, during which time she was known as Sara Lownds.
Sara married Bob Dylan at a quiet ceremony on November 22, 1965, and the couple had four children together. Their marriage has been cited by music writers and biographers as the inspiration for many songs which Dylan created during the 1960s and '70s, including "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands", "Love Minus Zero/No Limit", "Abandoned Love", and "Sara". The 1975 album Blood on the Tracks has been cited by many as Bob Dylan's account of their disintegrating marriage; their son Jakob Dylan has said that the lyrics of the album are "my parents talking".The pair divorced in June 1977.
Sara Dylan played the role of Clara in the movie Renaldo and Clara , directed by Dylan,and the film was described by a Dylan biographer as "in part a tribute to his wife".
Shirley Marlin Noznisky was born in Wilmington, Delaware, on October 25, 1939, to Jewish parents Isaac and Bessie Noznisky; her father was born in Poland circa 1894 and became a US citizen in 1912. Isaac set up a scrap metal business at South Claymont Street, Wilmington. He was shot dead by a drunken fellow East European immigrant on November 18, 1956.Shirley Noznisky had one brother, Julius, 16 years her senior.
In 1959, Shirley moved to New York City and quickly married magazine photographer Hans Lownds; Shirley was his third wife. Lownds persuaded her to change her name to Sara because his first wife, also named Shirley, had left him and he did not want to be reminded of his previous marriage. Sara and Hans lived in a five-story house on 60th Street in Manhattan, between Second and Third Avenues. Sara had a modeling career and appeared in Harper's Bazaar as the 'lovely luscious Sara Lownds'—then became pregnant. Their daughter Maria was born October 21, 1961. Within a year of the birth, the marriage began to fail.
Sara started going out on her own, driving around town in an MG sports car Hans had given her, and gravitated to the youthful scene in Greenwich Village. Sometime in early 1964, she met Bob Dylan. Sara was still married to Hans when they met, and Dylan was still romantically linked to Joan Baez at the time.Peter Lownds (Hans' son from a previous marriage) has stated: "Bob was the reason (she left Hans)." Sara also had a friend, Sally Buchler, who went on to marry Dylan's manager Albert Grossman. Dylan and Sara were guests at the wedding in November 1964.
After Hans and Sara separated, Sara went to work as a secretary for the film production division of the Time Life company, where filmmakers such as Richard Leacock and D. A. Pennebaker were impressed with her resourcefulness. "She was supposed to be a secretary," said Pennebaker, "but she ran the place." Sara introduced Bob Dylan and Albert Grossman to Pennebaker, the director who would make the film Dont Look Back , about Dylan's UK tour in April 1965.
Lownds and Dylan became romantically involved sometime in 1964;soon afterwards, they moved into separate rooms in New York's Hotel Chelsea to be near one another. Dylan biographer Robert Shelton, who knew Bob and Sara in the mid-1960s, writes that Sara "had a Romany spirit, seeming to be wise beyond her years, knowledgeable about magic, folklore and traditional wisdom".
Author David Hajdu described her as "well read, a good conversationalist and better listener, resourceful, a quick study, and good hearted. She impressed some people as shy and quiet, others as supremely confident; either way, she appeared to do only what she felt needed to be done."
In September 1965, Dylan commenced his first "electric" tour of the United States, backed by the Hawks.During a break in the tour, Dylan married Sara—now pregnant with Jesse Dylan—on November 22, 1965. According to Dylan biographer Howard Sounes, the wedding took place under an oak tree outside a judge's office on Long Island, and the only other participants were Albert Grossman and a maid of honor for Sara. Robbie Robertson, who was playing lead guitar on the 1965 "electric" tour, has described in his memoir how he received a phone call that morning to accompany the couple to a courthouse on Long Island, and then to a reception hosted by Albert and Sally Grossman at the Algonquin Hotel. Some of Dylan's friends (including Ramblin' Jack Elliott) claim that, in conversation immediately after the event, Dylan denied that he was married. Journalist Nora Ephron first made the news public in the New York Post in February 1966 with the headline "Hush! Bob Dylan is wed."
Bob and Sara had four children: Jesse, Anna, Samuel and Jakob. Dylan also adopted Maria, Sara's daughter from her first marriage.During these years of domestic stability, they lived in Woodstock in upstate New York.
In 1973, Bob and Sara Dylan sold their Woodstock home and purchased a modest property on the Point Dume peninsula in Malibu, California. They commenced constructing a large home on this site, and the re-modelling of the house occupied the next two years.Sounes writes that during this period, tensions began to appear in their marriage. The Dylans still retained a house in Manhattan. In April 1974, Dylan began to take art classes with artist Norman Raeben in New York. Dylan would later say in an interview that the art lessons caused problems in his marriage: "I went home after that first day and my wife never did understand me ever since that day. That's when our marriage started breaking up. She never knew what I was talking about, what I was thinking about, and I couldn't possibly explain it."
Notwithstanding these tensions, Sara accompanied Bob Dylan on much of the first stage of the Rolling Thunder Revue, from October to December 1975. The Revue formed the backdrop to the shooting of the film Renaldo and Clara , directed by Bob Dylan.Sara appeared in many scenes in this semi-improvised movie, playing Clara to Dylan's Renaldo. Joan Baez, a former lover of Dylan, was also a featured performer on the Revue and appeared in the film as The Woman in White. In one scene, Baez asks Dylan, "What would've happened if we ever got married, Bob?" Dylan replies, "I married the woman I love."
Sounes suggests that the film may have been in part Dylan's tribute to his wife, since his film production company, Lombard Street Films, was named after the street in Wilmington where Sara was born.
During the divorce proceedings, Sara was represented by attorney Marvin Mitchelson. Mitchelson later estimated that the settlement agreed was worth about $36 million to Sara and included "half the royalties from the songs written during their marriage". Michael Gray has written: "A condition of the settlement was that Sara would remain silent about her life with Dylan. She has done so." By some reports Dylan and Sara remained friends after the acrimony of the divorce subsided, and Clinton Heylin writes that the photo of Dylan on a hillside in Jerusalem, which appeared on the inner sleeve of the 1983 album Infidels , was taken by Sara. According to Howard Sounes in his book Down the Highway Sara "dated a number of men after her divorce including Bob's friend David Blue"; Blue died in 1982 of a heart attack while jogging in New York.
Discussing his parents' marriage, Jakob Dylan said in 2005: "My father said it himself in an interview many years ago: 'Husband and wife failed, but mother and father didn't.' My ethics are high because my parents did a great job."
Sara Dylan is said to have inspired several songs by Dylan, and two have been directly linked to her. "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands," the only song on the fourth side of the 1966 album Blonde on Blonde , was described by critic Robert Shelton as "virtually a wedding song for the former Sara Shirley N. Lownds".
In "Sara" from the 1976 album Desire , Dylan calls her a "radiant jewel, mystical wife". Shelton writes that with this song, "Dylan seems to be making an unabashed confessional to his wife. A plea for forgiveness and understanding."Noting the autobiographical reference in the song to "drinkin' white rum in a Portugal bar" Shelton connects this line with a trip Dylan made to Portugal with Sara in 1965. In "Sara," Dylan seems to acknowledge his wife as the inspiration for "Sad Eyed Lady":
Jacques Levy, who co-wrote many songs on Desire, has recalled how Dylan and Sara were estranged when he recorded this song in July 1975. Sara happened to visit the studio that evening and Dylan "sang 'Sara' to his wife as she watched from the other side of the glass... It was extraordinary. You could have heard a pin drop. She was absolutely stunned by it," said Levy.According to Larry Sloman, Dylan turned to Sara just before beginning the song, and stated, "This one's for you."
The songs on Dylan's 1975 album Blood on the Tracks have been described by several of Dylan's biographers and critics as arising from the tension as his marriage to Sara collapsed.The album was recorded soon after the couple's initial separation. Dylan biographers Robert Shelton and Clinton Heylin have cautioned against interpreting the album as naked autobiography, arguing that Blood on the Tracks works on many levels—musical, spiritual, poetic—as well as a personal confession. Dylan himself denied at the time of the album's release that Blood on the Tracks was autobiographical, but Jakob Dylan has said, "When I'm listening to 'Subterranean Homesick Blues' I'm grooving along just like you. But when I'm listening to Blood On The Tracks, that's about my parents."
Heylin has quoted Steven Soles saying that, in 1977, Dylan came over unannounced to his apartment and played him ten or twelve songs that were "very dark, very intense" dealing with his bitterness over the divorce. Soles adds that none of these songs were ever recorded.
In addition to Blonde on Blonde, Blood on the Tracks, and Desire, some critics have suggested Sara Dylan is the inspiration for other works. Both Clinton Heylin and Andy Gill have connected Sara to "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" recorded in January 1965.Gill writes that this song expresses admiration for Sara's "Zen-like equanimity: unlike most of the women he met, she wasn't out to impress him or interrogate him about his lyrics." Heylin also credits Sara Dylan as the inspiration for "She Belongs to Me" (from 1965's Bringing It All Back Home ) and "Abandoned Love" (recorded during the Desire sessions, but not released until the Biograph box set in 1985). Anne Margaret Daniel has noted that "Abandoned Love" was at one time entitled "Sara Part II Abandoned Love."
A fictional version of the marriage of Dylan and Sara is featured in the Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There , where Heath Ledger plays a Dylan-like performer and Charlotte Gainsbourg plays Claire, a character based on a combination of Sara Dylan and Suze Rotolo.
Blood on the Tracks is the fifteenth studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on January 20, 1975 by Columbia Records. The album marked Dylan's return to Columbia Records after a two-album stint with Asylum Records. Dylan began recording the album in New York City in September 1974. In December, shortly before Columbia was due to release the album, Dylan abruptly re-recorded much of the material in a studio in Minneapolis. The final album contains five tracks recorded in New York and five from Minneapolis.
Blonde on Blonde is the seventh studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released as a double album on June 20, 1966 by Columbia Records. Recording sessions began in New York in October 1965 with numerous backing musicians, including members of Dylan's live backing band, the Hawks. Though sessions continued until January 1966, they yielded only one track that made it onto the final album—"One of Us Must Know ". At producer Bob Johnston's suggestion, Dylan, keyboardist Al Kooper, and guitarist Robbie Robertson moved to the CBS studios in Nashville, Tennessee. These sessions, augmented by some of Nashville's top session musicians, were more fruitful, and in February and March all the remaining songs for the album were recorded.
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan is the second studio album by American singer-songwriter 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. Eleven of the thirteen songs on the album are Dylan's original compositions. It opens with "Blowin' in the Wind", which became an anthem of the 1960s, and an international hit for folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary soon after the release of the album. The album featured several other songs which came to be regarded as among Dylan's best compositions and classics of the 1960s folk scene: "Girl from the North Country", "Masters of War", "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right".
"It Ain't Me Babe" is a song by Bob Dylan that originally appeared on his fourth album Another Side of Bob Dylan, which was released in 1964 by Columbia Records. According to music critic Oliver Trager, this song, along with others on the album, marked a departure for Dylan as he began to explore the possibilities of language and deeper levels of the human experience. Within a year of its release, the song was picked up as a single by folk rock act the Turtles and country artist Johnny Cash.
Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid is the twelfth studio album and first soundtrack album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on July 13, 1973 by Columbia Records for the Sam Peckinpah film, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Dylan himself appeared in the film as the character "Alias". The soundtrack consists mainly of instrumental music and was inspired by the movie itself. The album includes "Knockin' on Heaven's Door", which became a trans-Atlantic Top 20 hit.
"Visions of Johanna" is a song written and performed by Bob Dylan on his 1966 album Blonde on Blonde. Several critics have acclaimed "Visions of Johanna" as one of Dylan's highest achievements in writing, praising the allusiveness and subtlety of the language. Rolling Stone included "Visions of Johanna" on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In 1999, Sir Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, listed it as the greatest song lyric ever written.
"Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" is a song by Bob Dylan. First released as the closing track on Dylan's 1966 album Blonde on Blonde, the song lasts 11 minutes and 22 seconds, occupying the entire side four of the double album. Dylan has revealed that the song was written about his future wife, Sara Lownds.
"Masters of War" is a song by Bob Dylan, written over the winter of 1962–63 and released on the album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan in the spring of 1963. The song's melody was adapted from the traditional "Nottamun Town". Dylan's lyrics are a protest against the Cold War nuclear arms build-up of the early 1960s.
Robert Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, author and visual artist. Often regarded as one of the greatest songwriters of all time, Dylan has been a major figure in popular culture during a career spanning nearly 60 years. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s, when songs such as "Blowin' in the Wind" (1963) and "The Times They Are a-Changin'" (1964) became anthems for the civil rights and anti-war movements. His lyrics during this period incorporated a range of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences, defying pop music conventions and appealing to the burgeoning counterculture.
"Just Like a Woman" is a song written by Bob Dylan and first released on his 1966 album, Blonde on Blonde. It was also released as a single in the U.S. during August 1966 and peaked at #33 on the Billboard Hot 100. Dylan's recording of "Just Like a Woman" was not issued as a single in the United Kingdom but the British beat group, Manfred Mann, did release a hit single version of the song in July 1966, which peaked at #10 on the UK Singles Chart. In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Dylan's version of the song at #232 in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
"Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" is a song by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. It is the opening track of his 1966 album, Blonde on Blonde. It was initially released as a single in April 1966, reaching No. 7 in the UK and No. 2 in the US chart. "Rainy Day Women", recorded in the Nashville studio of Columbia Records, features a raucous brass band backing track. The song's title does not appear anywhere in the lyrics and there has been much debate over both the meaning of the title and of the recurrent chorus, "Everybody must get stoned". This has made the song controversial, being labelled by some commentators as "a drug song".
"Bob Dylan's Dream" is a song written by Bob Dylan in 1963. It was recorded by Dylan on April 24, 1963, and was released by Columbia Records a month later on the album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.
The Basement Tapes is the 16th album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan and his second with the Band. It was released on June 26, 1975, by Columbia Records. Two-thirds of the album's 24 tracks feature Dylan on lead vocals backed by the Band, and were recorded in 1967, eight years before the album's release, in the lapse between the recording and subsequent release of Blonde on Blonde and John Wesley Harding, during sessions that began at Dylan's house in Woodstock, New York, then moved to the basement of Big Pink. While most of these had appeared on bootleg albums, The Basement Tapes marked their first official release. The remaining eight songs, all previously unavailable, feature the Band without Dylan and were recorded between 1967 and 1975.
"Watching the River Flow" is a blues rock song by American singer Bob Dylan. Produced by Leon Russell, it was written and recorded during a session in March 1971 at the Blue Rock Studio in New York City. The collaboration with Russell formed in part through Dylan's desire for a new sound—after a period of immersion in country rock music—and for a change from his previous producer. The song was praised by critics for its energy and distinctive vocals, guitar, and piano. It has been interpreted as Dylan's account of his writer's block in the early 1970s, and his wish to deliver less politically engaged material and find a new balance between public and private life.
The Bootleg Series Vol. 9: The Witmark Demos: 1962–1964 is a compilation album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, containing demo recordings he made for his first two publishing companies, Leeds Music and M. Witmark & Sons, from 1962 to 1964. The ninth installment of the ongoing Bob Dylan Bootleg Series, it was released on October 19, 2010 on Legacy Records.
Gil Turner was an American folk singer-songwriter, magazine editor, Shakespearean actor, political activist, and for a time, a lay Baptist preacher. Turner was a prominent figure in the Greenwich Village scene of the early 1960s, where he was master of ceremonies at New York City's leading folk music venue, Gerde's Folk City, as well as co-editor of the protest song magazine Broadside. He also wrote for Sing Out!, the quarterly folk music journal.
"John Wesley Harding" is a song by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan that appears as the opening track on his 1967 album of the same name.
"Mama, You Been on My Mind" is a song by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Written in 1964 during a trip to Europe, the song dealt with his recent breakup with his girlfriend, Suze Rotolo. Dylan first recorded the song in June of that year during a session for his album Another Side of Bob Dylan. However, the song was not included on the album, and Dylan's version remained unreleased until 1991. In total, in the 1990s and 2000s four versions were put out on Dylan's Bootleg Series of releases, including two live performances with Joan Baez from 1964 and 1975.
"Sara" is a song from Bob Dylan's 1976 album Desire. It is the closing song on the album. Unlike many of the songs on the album, which were written by Dylan and Jacques Levy, "Sara" was written solely by Dylan, as an autobiographical account of his estrangement from then-wife Sara Dylan. It was recorded on July 31, 1975.