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Comrades From The North

Hello and welcome to the very latest issue of The Bridge. This piece is being written in the middle of the British summer and there is a very hard rain falling outside. Plus ça change. Maybe you have come across the expression “Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you”? For those interested, this expression was most recently used (in modified form) in The Big Lebowski and was the title of an Ian Matthews album but has a much longer provenance. Put simply - “You win some, you lose some”. Well it has been a bit like that in our world just recently and we are not talking about the final of Euro 2020. First off the good news. Dylan and Dylan’s people continue to be active and, in the absence of full-scale touring, there have been some treats along the way. The good people at the Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa released an early home recording of Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright to publicize their official opening next May. If that were not tasty enough there also appeared Alan Lomax’s recording of Dylan playing his freshly-minted Masters Of War, only available previously on a hard to find archival release, together with an exposition by Dylan detailing the origins of the song. All of this was eclipsed by the announcement that Dylan had recorded a concert entitled Shadow Kingdom which was broadcast ‘live’ on 18th July then available to replay for a week. The show featured 13 songs most from Dylan’s early career, the latest was What Was It You Wanted? It was an interesting event with some significant lyric rewrites but it was not live, the songs were supposedly being ‘played’ in a club with a small the audience. However, the fact that it was only 50 minutes long was disappointing, but a major positive was Dylan’s voice. But that was not the end of it - as part of a set of digital releases of previously-released DVDs, a new compilation, Odds and Ends, was made available. Much of the film focuses on Dylan's first 20 years with Columbia Records and contains much material that has been previously bootlegged sadly with no unseen snippets.

Just as we were about to 'go to press' Springtime In New York: The Bootleg Series Vol. 16 (1980-1985) has been announced which is a 5-CD set including previously unreleased outtakes, alternate takes, rehearsal recordings from Shot Of Love, Infidels and Empire Burlesque.

On the darker side several players in the Dylan story have passed away since out last issue. Bob Fass, pioneer of free-form radio was a champion of Dylan's work and hosted a tremendous phone-in with Dylan centre-stage in 1966. Sally Grossman, widow of Albert, graced the innovative cover of Bringing It All Back Home, a true 'dark beauty' to use Dylan's own words. Denny Freeman was an ever-present in Dylan's band between 2005 and 2009 adding his distinctive, subtle guitar colourings to the shows and as part of the highly-regarded Modern Times recordings. Honourable mentions too for Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Peter Ostrowski and Don Heffington. May they all rest in peace.

And now the bear eats us - from 1st July changes to the e-commerce rules mean that items imported to the EU with a value of €22 or less are no longer exempt from VAT and import duty. This presents The Bridge with a serious problem in serving our loyal and valued EU subscribers, one that we are trying to overcome but it is not at all easy to do so. All EU subscribers will have received an email detailing the issues and proposed solutions by the time this issue hits your letterboxes. This is not good news - far from it, but hope springs eternal.

And so the world moves on, step by little step. Concerts will return (but will Dylan?), travel will resume and daylight will arrive at the right time. But let us take it slowly, for all our sakes.

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

Mike & John

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