What’s the oddest thing about Christmas In the Heart? The fact that Bob Dylan didn’t record a Christmas album when he was a born-again Christian or the fact that a Bob Dylan Christmas album actually exists? I’m going with the sheer existence of such an album. But really, upon consideration of Dylan’s fascination with Americana it’s not that surprising. Especially if you look at the songs he has on the album – mostly traditional Christmas songs.
Almost every one who doesn’t like Dylan (or only like him casually) will comment on his voice. But really, commenting that Dylan can’t sing is such an old argument. (I for one think he actually can, and happen to like his voice.) But as always, there are ways that Dylan sings and performs that only he can get away with. Which in this case, give an interesting twist on traditional Holiday favorites. Most of the songs are low-key in a folksy way, with the exception of the polka-blast of “Must Be Santa” – which is already destined to become a Holiday classic with it’s sing-along chorus. It’s amusing to hear Dylan pronounce Christmas as “Chris-mussssss” or muse “that we’ll have to muddle through somehow,” at the end of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
Do You Hear What I Hear? is almost funny when Dylan asks, “Do you know what I know?” or instructs us to “Listen to what I say.” As always with Christmas albums, Little Drummer Boy needs to go in a moratorium. There are only two people have done a good version of that song – Bing Crosby was one. David Bowie was the other.
Overall, it’s pretty much what I expected. That being said, it’s already in my top 3 Christmas albums of all time. (For what it’s worth my list goes like this: A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector, John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together, and Dylan.)