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Comrades From The North

Hello and welcome to the show that never ends. Well that’s how it would seem given Dylan’s penchant for treading the boards interspersed with all of the recording, rehearsing, rereleases and receiving of gongs. As intense as these activities can be, perhaps the greatest growth area is in Bob Dylan-related literature. The bookshelves are already groaning under the weight of such tomes and yet still they come. It would seem that every aspect of Dylan’s universe has been covered. His life and work has been probed, scrutinised, analysed, stamped, recorded, catalogued, indexed and categorised in volumes of facts, rumours and opinions on a spectrum from informed to highly speculative. It is hard to get a fresh angle – and yet the books just keep on coming. One man who has managed successfully to present something new in recent times is Ian Bell, whose two volumes The Lives of Bob Dylan, provide an informative, intelligent and insightful take on Dylan and his career and the phases that each evolving “Bob Dylan” has inhabited. Bell does not shrink from offering firm opinions and there are no sacred cows in the Dylan canon so far as he is concerned. But he knows his subject and his arguments are almost always entirely convincing, if sometimes against the grain of popular sentiments. For example, his work on the mid-60’s albums, the “Christian trilogy” and the lateperiod albums is outstanding and in this latter discussion , from our viewpoint at least, he nails the whole argument of Dylan and plagiarism.

One song that comes in for a critical pasting is Ballad In Plain D. Now that will probably come as no surprise to subscribers (and most critics feel the same) but we feel that this received wisdom goes unchallenged far too often and the song is worthy of another review. Certainly it is, in turn, juvenile, vengeful and vicious (and probably unfair!) but it is not entirely devoid of a decent lyric or two along the 5 way. But what do you think? We invite you to offer your own considered opinions. Should be interesting.

We wish to tender our apologies for any offence caused to Hugues Aufray for the inclusion on an incorrect photo on page 76 of The Bridge 48. The correct photo has been included on page 2 of this issue. We hope that this error did not cause distress.

Next time around The Bridge will be 50. It’s hard to believe it but it’s true. We hope to mark this event with a special themed edition and, as we look forward to that, we thank you, our subscribers, for getting us so far along this road as we continue, not without a heavy slice of irony given the content of this editorial, to swell those groaning bookshelves.

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

Mike & John

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