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Ten Muses For Songwriters

List Of The Day

Suze Rotolo, Bob Dylan's girlfriend, who appeared on his arm for the iconic album cover of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan and was the source of inspiration for songs such as "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," "Boots of Spanish Leather" and "Ballad in Plain D," died after a long illness at the age of 67. Her book, A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties, is an essential read for anyone with an interest in life and society in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

I'm sure there are plenty of muses in modern day rock and pop. But pardon me for preferring the old school muses for this column. Please write in your own suggestions in the box generously provided you by the good folks here at Y! Music.

I'm sticking, primarily, with muses who inspired a LOT of songs, with exceptions made for legendary songs and people.

In other words, this is my list. Your list will be yours.

Let's celebrate the love. And I hope you are A-MUSED by this list! (GET IT, A-MUSE-D. Ha. Ha. Crackin' UP!)

First: the Muse, then the songwriter.


10) Janet Planet - Van Morrison: Anyone who can keep Van Morrison from complaining is a big help to those of us who like when he sings love songs and songs about spiritual growth. It's hard to believe that Morrison once wore hippie kaftans and was married to a woman who went by the name Janet Planet. She sounds like a clothing retail chain.

9) Fred "Sonic" Smith - Patti Smith: Patti admits she wrote her parts of "c" while waiting for Fred "Sonic" Smith of the MC5 to call her. From there, the game was on. She married him. He died. And now she's back eulogizing him along with her old friend Robert Mapplethorpe. Patti remembers her friends. At least her famous ones.

8) Marianne (Jensen) Ihlen - Leonard Cohen: Leonard Cohen called her the most beautiful woman he had ever met. (The man is smooth.) Throughout the 1960s, Cohen, Marianne Ihlen and her young son lived together in Montreal, New York City and the Greek Island of Hydra. Cohen dedicated his poetry book, Flowers for Hitler, to her and then wrote the classic "So Long, Marianne." She also appeared on the back cover of his album Songs From A Room, where she looked quite young and fetching.

7) Annemari Davies - Robert Wratten: Robert Wratten of The Field Mice, Northern Picture Library and Trembling Blue Stars allowed the love of his life, Annemari Davies, to remain in the band, while he wrote album after album about their relationship and subsequent break-up. Who does this?

6) Mystery Man - Carly Simon: Carly auctioned off the secret of who "You're So Vain" is really about. NBC exec Dick Ebersol is the only person aside from Carly who knows for sure. Some say Mick Jagger. Others, James Taylor. I'm with the crowd who vote for Warren Beatty.

5) Lindsey Buckingham - Stevie Nicks: Or should this be the other way around? Eh, it works both ways. Each member of Fleetwood Mac would write songs about one another and then be forced to sing them into each other's eyes while their marriages fell apart. Man, that must've been fun!

4) Yoko Ono - John Lennon: No, she didn't break up the Beatles. But she did inspire Lennon to write songs about her all the way to his very end.

3) Anna Gordy - Marvin Gaye: The elder sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy, Anna inspired Marvin to write "Pride and Joy" and they even co-wrote a few tunes together as well.  But she is best known as the inspiration for Gaye's brilliant Here, My Dear album. Gordy received the album's royalties, so Gaye made it a double and wrote all the songs about their dissolving relationship.

2) Suze Rotolo - Bob Dylan: Bob Dylan was a genius partly because he was a human sponge and could take whatever information was fed to him and turn it into something new. Rotolo's liberal NYC family had an arts and culture background that people in Hibbing, Minnesota could only dream about. Bob did and she made it all come true.

1) Patti Boyd - George Harrison, Eric Clapton: "Layla" and other songs. George Harrison's wife and later his friend Eric Clapton's, Patti Boyd is a part of classic rock lure: The kind that says it's fine to borrow a friend's wife if all the other women in the world don't appeal to you.

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