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Comrades From The North

The Dylan touring year has just ended as we write this little introduction. The latest, and last leg of the year, saw Dylan on his way through selected states in USA and Canada playing 33 shows in double headers with Mark Knopfler. Given that Tempest had only been out for a short while, expectations were high that Dylan might start introducing material from that album into these shows. Cracked old poker players and those more risk-averse even ventured to place (imaginary) bets on which song would be harvested from the album first. And Dylan did not disappoint – at least not initially. In the very first show, in Winnipeg, Manitoba on 5th October, he gave an airing to Scarlet Town which was a genuine surprise to many. Almost all fans seemed to agree that a song like Tempest was unlikely to feature, and likewise Tin Angel. They would have been surprising inclusions but Scarlet Town was close behind that. However, our man is nothing if not ornery and the song did not feature again in the tour! Indeed it was a full month before he dipped into the album again, this time with a cracking version of Early Roman Kings in St. Paul (7th November). He made it a trio six days later in Detroit when Pay In Blood was given its one and only airing of the tour. Eventually Early Roman Kings became a staple in the set list and Dylan treated those fans who made it to the final two shows by also including Soon After Midnight. Your editors were genuinely convinced that the debut performance from Tempest would be Duquesne Whistle. We are still waiting for that particular whistle to blow!

Speaking of Duquesne Whistle it was released as a single to coincide with 'Black Friday'. The real gem lay on the b-side which contained a previously unreleased version of Meet Me In The Morning.

To round off what has been a pretty good year for Dylan, the end-of-year issue of Uncut magazine (Take 188) re-visited Bruce Springsteen’s speech at the South by Southwest festival earlier in the year. Speaking of Dylan he reminds us why many of us are on this journey and it really doesn’t matter how young or old you are because the message is universal and timeless:

If you were young in the ‘50s and 60s, everything felt false, everywhere you turned. But you didn’t know how to say it. There was no language for it at the time. I just felt f***** up, but you didn’t have the words. Bob came along and gave us those words. He gave us those songs. And the first thing he asked was ‘How does it feel?’ ... He gave us the words to understand our hearts. He treated you like an adult. He stood back and took in the stakes we were playing for, he laid them out in front of you. Bob is the father of my musical country. And I thank him.”

Readers may know that all-round good guy, Dylan follower par excellence and photographer extraordinaire John Hume passed away recently. John was a friend and also a colleague and he provided many top-notch photographs to The Bridge and our associated tour annuals. Many adorn our front covers. Yet another good man is gone and he will be sorely missed by his family and the many, many others whose paths crossed his, however briefly. Adios, old pal. On a brighter note, we wish you the very best for the forthcoming festive season. Here’s hoping that we are all back in 2013, anticipating the next on-stage offering from Tempest.

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

Mike & John

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