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Comrades From The North

Greetings and welcome to the final issue of 2023.We hope that you are managing to keep both safe and sane in the currently very unstable planet and from the wacky virtual world of social media. Since our last issue there has been the deaths of three more people from Dylan’s multiverse. Foremost amongst these was Robbie Robertson who passed away on 9th August. Robertson was a key shaper of Dylan’s live sound as a member of The Hawks when he plugged in and faced the world’s audiences in late 1965 and 1966. Of course their collaboration continued beyond that time. Given their time together, Dylan’s statement following the announcement was brief and almost trite:

"This is shocking news. Robbie was a lifelong friend. His passing leaves a vacancy in the world."

On 1st September Jimmy Buffett passed away. Dylan had revealed to Bill Flanagan that Buffett was one of his favourite songwriters and he played Buffett's A Pirate Looks At Forty at the Peace Sunday concert in 1982. Shortly after that Buffett ran into Dylan in St. Barts and Buffett spilt the beans to Rolling Stone magazine:

"I was walking by the marine-supply store,” Buffett recalls, “and I heard a voice say, ‘Hey, Jimmy, that’s a nice-looking pair of shoes. And it was Bob Dylan! He was seeing a girl that I knew on the island, and I knew a couple of guys that worked for him on the road. And he invited me out on the boat, and we sat there and talked. We got stoned all day long.” Buffett came away convinced he’d made a deep connection with Dylan: “I’m thinking, man, we have a bond here.” Five years later, he went to see Dylan perform with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in Paris, and a mutual friend who worked security told Buffett that Dylan would be excited to see him backstage. “And I go backstage,” says Buffett, “and Dylan was sitting there. He had these gloves on. He’s got his hoodie on. I said, ‘Bob, how doin’?' ”Dylan responded with just a grunted “eh.” “He never said a word,” says Buffett. “I sat there, ate my meal and said, ‘Well, have a good show. See you later.’ That was it. I haven’t seen him since!"

Finally, on 22nd October Gregg Sutton departed this earth. Gregg played in Dylan’s band on the 1984 tour and even got his own singing spot.

Dylan has recently wound up a successful North American tour during which he embellished his standard set list in a number of shows with a song relevant to the city he was in. So fans were treated to gems like Kansas City, Born In Chicago and New York State of Mind, amongst others. But before that all started he surprised everyone when he turned up to play the 2023 Farm Aid show and played guitar throughout the three performances with a a different band than his touring combo that included old sparring partners Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench. Thrilled punters were treated to a slightly tentative Maggie's Farm ahead of stellar performances of Positively 4th Street and Ballad Of A Thin Man.

They say that you can’t put a price on quality and that may be so but you can tell when something doesn’t feel right. We refer to the cost of The Complete Budokan. At £190 for four CDs and accompanying booklet and memorabilia it seems exorbitant. Anyone out there agree? Compare with the, admitedly less stellar, Horslips whose box set contains 35-discs including 4.5 Hours of unreleased video, a hardback book plus lots more all for a reasonable £250.

On that contentious note we wish you a Happy Christmas and hope that a better world can begin to emerge in 2024.

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

Mike & John

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