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Comrades From The North

Hello and welcome to the first (and hopefully the last) issue of The Bridge compiled entirely within lockdown. These strange times certainly do put things into perspective - life, love, family, friends, you dwell on it all. Some have no money coming in and bills piling up whilst others have money but nothing to spend it on. And everyone else in between. We sincerely hope that you and yours are safe and well and that you have been able to weather this difficult period. As we write the UK has not yet fully emerged from the new dark ages though a lot of businesses have now re-opened. However, the performing arts sector remains locked down tight. So there is no live music, live theatre or other mass audience events. In common with everyone else Dylanís touring plans have been shredded and this may well be the first year since 1977 with no on-stage appearances of any sort. Time will tell. However, nature abhors a vacuum and Dylan managed to fill up the dead space with the online releases of a trio of new tunes delivered in March, April and May followed by a full-blown double album from which these cuts originated. The first release, Murder Most Foul, created quite a stir coming, as it did, out of nowhere. Being his first release of original material since 2012, it managed to pique the interest of even the dailies and glowing headlines duly followed. It also happened to be his longest recording and was issued just as lockdown began thus providing a welcome diversion for many. It was also an unequivocal exposition on the murder of JFK on that dreadful November day as well as a fascinating suggested playlist of the American musical journey that followed. Not only that, it came with a message from the man himself. Thanking fans for their support and loyalty he went on:

"....This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that you might find interesting. Stay safe, stay observant and may God be with you."

Such a lovely message to receive during a period of great uncertainty. A second tune, I Contain Multitudes followed and, at the time of the third release, False Prophet, came news of the new album Rough And Rowdy Ways. When the album came it was yet another journey through dark heat, somwhat deeper, sometimes darker than before but often lighter too with a playfulness, an occasional tongue-in-cheek that rarely surfaced on his last original outing Tempest. A veritable cavalcade of words, a torrent of cross-references, lyrically denseand a mashup of the real and the imagined. In this issue you will find musings on the album from a number of top writers on the merits or otherwise of the album as a whole. Preceeding those pieces is a critique of Murder Most Foul written by Bridge stalwart Roy Kelly shortly after it emerged before knowledge of a new album was abroad. We trust that you will enjoy these pieces and let us know your views. Since our last issue both Little Richard and Bucky Baxter have passed away. Both played a role in Dylanís story - one as an inspiration par excellence, the other as a trusted musical support. More fulsome reflections can be found in Jotting Down Notes.

As parts of the world reawaken whilst others are shutting down it looks like we will have to wait just a while longer to get back to where we once belonged. Will it be just like before. You can always come back but you canít come back all the way, as someone once said. We hope that you can adjust to what the media is calling the 'new normal'.

Apologies, but we have had to hold over the second part of the Tim Charles interview due to the articles on the new album. This we will now be included in issue 68 of The Bridge. May you climb on every rung. Mike and John

May you climb on every rung ..........

Mike & John

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