Bob Dylan Said There Should Be a ‘Sanction Against Divorce’ Right After His Own Divorce

Bob Dylan married two times and went through two divorces. In his first marriage to Sara Dylan, the couple remained together for over a decade and shared five children. In 1977, Sara filed for divorce. Soon after, Dylan publicly spoke out against divorce. He asserted his belief that there should be some type of sanction against ending a marriage. 

Bob Dylan wears a bolo tie and stands with his hand on his hip.
Bob Dylan | Michael Kovac/WireImage

The ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ singer was married twice

In 1965, Dylan married Sara Lownds, a model and actor. The couple kept their nuptials under wraps, only inviting a handful of people to their private civil ceremony. While Dylan was a global celebrity, Sara wasn’t interested in fame. Per the book No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan by Robert Shelton, Dylan said his wife “is a very private person. She doesn’t have to be on the scene, any scene, to be happy.” 

Sara Dylan and Bob Dylan sit in a car together. Bob Dylan wears sunglasses.
Sara Dylan and Bob Dylan |  Brad Elterman/FilmMagic

In 1986, Dylan remarried nearly ten years after his divorce from Sara. His relationship with his backup singer Carolyn Dennis was even more secretive than the one with Sara. The couple shared one child and divorced in 1992. It wasn’t until the publication of the book Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan by Howard Sounes that details of their relationship came to light.

Bob Dylan spoke out against divorce after separating from his wife

In 1977, Sara filed for divorce after reportedly finding Dylan at the breakfast table with another woman. Per Rolling Stone, she requested “permanent custody of the couple’s five children, along with unspecified amounts of child support, alimony and a court-supervised disposition of the couple’s community property.” One year after the split, Dylan opened up about his relationship.

“Marriage was a failure. Husband and wife was a failure, but father and mother wasn’t a failure. I wasn’t a very good husband,” he said, adding, “I don’t know what a good husband is. I was good in some ways … and not so good in other ways. But I feel my true family relationship is up ahead of me somewhere. I’d try again.”

He explained that no one in his family had divorced, so he assumed his marriage “would last forever.” He spoke out against divorce in general. 

“Most people … keep some contact, which is great for the kids,” he said. “But in my case, I first got really married, and then got really divorced. I believe in marriage. I know I don’t believe in open marriage. Sexual freedom just leads to other kinds of freedom. I think there should be a sanction against divorce. Why should people be allowed to get married and divorced so easily?”

Bob Dylan’s album ‘Blood on the Tracks’ came before his divorce, but is about separating from his wife

In 1975, Dylan released the album Blood on the Tracks. He and Sara had separated in 1974, and the album detailed their marital discord.

“A lot of people tell me they enjoyed that album,” he said, per Rolling Stone. “It’s hard for me to relate to that — I mean, people enjoying that type of pain.”

His son, Jakob Dylan, also recognized the album as a reflection of his parents’ relationship. 

“I said, ‘Jakob, what goes through your mind when you listen to your father’s records?'” his former manager Andrew Slater said. “He 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.’ I never asked him again.”

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