The confounded bridge! This expression appears to have originated in the 1973 song, “The Crunge,” by Led Zeppelin (on the Houses of the Holy album). At the end of the song, either John Bonham or Robert Plant asks, (music historians disagree on whose voice is being heard) “Where’s the confounded bridge?”. This is a reference to James Brown, whose songs usually involved irregular forms, such that he had to say “Take me to the bridge” to inform his band it was time to play the bridge part of the song. The bridge in a song is used to contrast the usual structure of verse/chorus/verse/chorus that is common in many songs. The bridge, or b section, of a song is a transitional section that usually occurs in the middle and is used to prepare for the return of the verse/chorus structure. The bridge often has a different chord and/or rhythmic structure than the rest of the song and can be difficult for musicians to play (thus, Led Zeppelin’s reference to the confounded nature of the bridge). Outside the U.S.A., the bridge of a song is called the “middle 8,” due to the fact that it is usually 4 or 8 musical bars. Many songs by The Beatles contain a bridge, or as they called it, the middle 8, written by the non primary song writer. For example, if a song’s verses and chorus were written by John Lennon, Paul McCartney frequently wrote the middle 8 (and vice versa). The purpose of the bridge is to provide a new angle, advance the story of the song, or introduce a new element. In my life, most situations involve a musical reference. For me, the bridge in life, as in music, can be a different perspective on a familiar situation, a change in ways of doing something, or an entirely new way of looking at the world. In music, I am always listening for the bridge to determine where the song will be taking me. One never knows when that confounded bridge will appear.
This post confounded me enough that it had to percolate in my brain before I could write it. Melissa’s knowledge of things musical is vast. With her piano and bass guitar training, as well as her lifelong enjoyment of listening to recorded and live music, she is much better versed in musical terminology. At least I have some knowledge from my years playing in a marching band, as well as a mutual enjoyment of listening. But from Melissa’s playing, she often thinks in terms of the logic of music. As I re-read her post today, I thought of the bridges we face in life and in business. The business ones come to mind for me in that my day seems full of them. Perhaps it is that I come from a city with many bridges – Jacksonville. Each bridge takes one from a different place, with a different purpose, a different vibe. In my daily business life, I have bridges between tasks. Am I doing an HR task, then a finance task, then a client task? Yes, probably all in a single day, or hour. Crossing bridges sometimes involves tolls; it sure used to in Jacksonville! (That led to lots of confounding experiences at the toll booths!) The mental toll of crossing bridges can be expensive. Changing gears, or mind sets, to focus on different tasks is often not easy. Sometimes, I have to think for a second, as if changing gears, to get from one thing to the other. It often helps me bridge my tasks to divert my attention to something briefly, like to sort a few photos on my computer or a quick look at news or social media. Whatever bridge exists in your life or work, cross carefully and enjoy the view!