Was Faridi McFree the Reason Bob Dylan was Wandering in Long Branch in 2009?

Kristie Buble, the Long Branch police officer who didn't recognize Bob Dylan (and who can blame her?)

Kristie Buble, the Long Branch police officer who answered the call about the “suspicious person” wandering the streets.

On the rainy night of July 23, 2009, the 1960s musical icon Bob Dylan was picked up by the police after being observed peeping through the window of a house in Long Branch, New Jersey. This isn’t as bad as it sounds.  The house in question was for sale.

Even so, one of the people in a neighboring house saw what he was doing and called the cops, reporting him as a suspicious person.  He was disheveled, disoriented, and wearing a hoodie.  Of course the neighbor called the cops.

One of the officers who answered the call was Kristie Buble, who was in her 20s and too young to recognize the singer.  Another officer, also in his 20s, was similarly not impressed when the unhappy wanderer claimed to be the legend.  It was an honest mistake.

My favorite radio station is WPLJ, and the first I heard of all this happened when my radio alarm clock woke me up to hear the DJ’s having a wonderful time sending up this story.  I’m not sure if the broadcast was the morning after or a couple of weeks later.  I’ll get to that in a moment.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Dylan was doing in Long Branch.  He told the cops he was on the way to a Dylan concert in Fresno, California…which was not exactly next door to the New Jersey town where he was caught in the act of looking in the window of the vacant house.  People seemed stymied as to why he was there.

I wasn’t.  Right away, I had a feeling I knew exactly what might have brought him to Long Branch.  His old girlfriend, artist Faridi McFree, had moved to Long Branch.

Faridi’s in Long Branch?  And Bob Dylan is found wandering around Long Branch?  It couldn’t be a coincidence, I thought.  He was probably there to see her.

In fact, I hoped with all my heart that he was there to see Faridi.  She was one of my greatest friends and had never, ever gotten over him.

I didn’t know then, as I was laughing along with the WLPJ guys, that Faridi had been sick – and was dying.  I hadn’t heard from her for a little while, which was odd, since we were in pretty regular contact over email.  I have to write her, I thought, and find out if they’d been reunited at last.  It would be so great for her, if they had.  Getting back together with Dylan had been her dream since long before I met her…

When I finally wrote her to ask if Dylan had been in Long Branch to see her, it wasn’t Faridi who replied.  It was one of her legion of nieces, and she gave me the news that we had lost her.  Faridi passed away in August, 2009.

Faridi was on her deathbed as her ex-lover Bob Dylan roamed the streets of her town.  How wild is that?  He was reportedly acting “disoriented.”  Maybe seeing his old love could have gotten the man upset…

So I wonder what really prompted Bob Dylan’s wanderings that night in July, when poor Faridi was nearing the end.  Was he in Long Branch to see her?  Surely seeing him would have been Faridi’s dying wish.  If there had been any way to bring that about, anyone who knew her would have tried to find a way to contact him and get him, belatedly, over to see her.

Awhile back I wrote a blog post about Faridi and Dylan and sometimes hear from people who are interested in their affair or in Faridi’s artwork.  One of them is Stephan Pickering.  He provided me with the picture below.  It shows Faridi, in the middle with hand on chin, and Bob Dylan on the right, on the floor.  There’s also an unknown gal in the photo on the left.  This was taken in February of 1974 in Seattle.  Take a look at how happy Faridi and Bob look.

Faridi had created a cartoon character she wanted to develop into a television series.  It was based on Bob Dylan, whose real name was Robert Zimmerman, as she felt he didn’t communicate with people too well, so she called the character “Zimmy the Zipper.”  The cartoon showed a dude with a zipper for a mouth that he kept sealed shut and wouldn’t open.  It’s still a great idea for a cartoon.  I hope Dylan was Long Branch to see her that night in 2009 – and had “unzipped his lip” at last…but who knows?

Thanks, Stephan, for sharing this photo with me, and for the chance to put it out there so that people who are interested in their relationship can see it.  There can be no doubt: she clearly loved Dylan.

Shabtai Pisel, Faridi McFree and Bob Dylan.

Unidentified woman, Faridi McFree and Bob Dylan.



9 thoughts on “Was Faridi McFree the Reason Bob Dylan was Wandering in Long Branch in 2009?

  1. Shalom & Erev tov, Carolyn…the name of the girl is unknown…Bob’s real, Hebrew name is Shabtai Zisel benAvraham…Faridi McFree was a brilliant artist, a magician of words…and I shall always believe that had Sara Dylan’s lawyer not got involved during the divorce battles, that Faridi and Bob would have been together until she died. Sara was incredibly threatened by Faridi’s presence, although they were far more alike than Sara realised. Faridi was calm, perceptive, not needing ‘Bob Dylan’ to authenticate who she was as a womanist. It was a profoundly shattering chain-of-events. I am hoping that, someone, somewhere, will actually publish her drawings and paintings. kol tuv uv’racha…may she be blessed with all that is good…STEPHAN PICKERING / חפץ ח”ם בן אברהם
    Torah אלילה Yehu’di Apikores / Philologia Kabbalistica Speculativa Researcher
    לחיות זמן רב ולשגשג



    • Thanks, Stephan – so sorry I misunderstood about the name of the woman! Will change that at once. And yes, Sara Dylan – and her lawyer, who I believe was Marvin Mitchelson – were definitely the “villains” of the piece!


  2. Fascinating story Carolyn. I am guessing he never got to actually see her though? Regardless his effort and time spent in his search for her makes an awesome piece. Thanks so much for this interesting share. I never would have known. Sue Day


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