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Comrades From The North

Hello and welcome to another edition of The Bridge. In the northern hemisphere, at least, we are moving gently into springtime just as Dylan is moving gently back into another touring year. Not that he's been idle during the winter. All reports indicate that we can expect a brand new album, recorded, burnished and grown during the months off the road. This is good news indeed but we wonder how eagerly fans anticipate new Dylan product these days. Is the thrill still there? Do you count the days like it used to be forty or thirty years ago? Probably not? So much has changed these days. In those past times, information was hard to get, it was drip fed by the record company and there was almost no way of hearing any of an album in advance. These days, of course the internet provides the opportunity for instant world-wide information sharing establishing a virtual network of friends and other strangers supplying both rumours and facts as they emerge. The record companies themselves use this mechanism to push new product enticing us with audio and video snippets. In addition, it is usually not that difficult for die-hard fans to obtain advance copies of a whole new album. Has the information age made it too easy and, thus, made us all just that bit blasé about new music? Certainly there are plenty of people in the download culture who rely solely on those means of providing their music. What happened to the magic moment when you got hold of the actual packaged product in your hot little mitts and pored over it? Whatever your preferences, your humble authors will be looking forward to the new album keenly.

And so after all of the studio time, Dylan is back on the boards doing what he is most used to. Do you ever long for Dylan to say a bit more to the audience during his live shows? Perhaps he could tell a story or two, introduce a song by telling something of its origin or talk about the weather. If you do feel like this, beware! You might end up with more chat and less music. One of the great artistes of the last four decades, Roy Harper, has often fallen into this trap. Roy tells stories on stage, introduces songs and then tells stories and tells them and tells them. Depending upon his mood and audience reaction this can go on for some time between every song. Somehow one can't imagine Dylan getting into that mode but there are plenty of folk who feel that a little bit more interaction would go down well. Not us! It's the music that counts. But you may think differently - we're sure that you'll let us know if you do.

Still on the theme of touring, the shows themselves might benefit from a paring down of some of the songs. The general pattern is for songs to be elongated to a minimum length of six or so minutes. This is fine when the songs merit such length but others would benefit greatly from a dose of focussed brevity. Songs which were originally about three minutes long would, more often than not, go down well that way on stage. Short, sharp, no frills, no flab. Having said that, the versions of songs in 1966 often went on at length but they were never boring - indeed they were riveting - so our argument is not watertight!

We hope that you enjoy this issue and we thank you for your continued and valuable support.

And to each of you, may you climb on every rung ..........

Mike and John

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