November 29, 2009

"I don’t want to put you on the spot, but you sure deliver that song like a true believer."

"Well, I am a true believer."

Bob Dylan answers a question that was inspired by his singing of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" on his recently released Christmas album.
Some critics don’t seem to know what to make of this record. Bloomberg news said, “Some of the songs sound ironic. Does he really mean have yourself a Merry Little Christmas?” Is there any ironic content in these songs?
No not at all. Critics like that are on the outside looking in....

19 comments:

XWL said...

What I had to say after giving that album a spin:

Given that all the songs are well known standards that just about every major commercial artist under the sun has taken a crack at, there are a few questions any performer has to ask of themselves before hitting the recording booth (unless they're just after a holiday-themed paycheck, in which case, the only question is how to promote the sucker and get prominently displayed in all the major retailers).

Those questions:

What would be unique about my performance?

Do I love and respect this material?

Will my existing fans enjoy this excursion down nostalgia lane?

Will this appeal beyond my own fan base?

As far as Dylan goes, I think only one of those questions mattered to him personally, and that is, "Do I love and respect this material?", and his answer is a pure unadulterated yes. I don't think there's ever been a more sincerely felt Christmas album released, period. There's a palpable sense that Dylan loves this music with a simple, open hearted sincerity.


There's more, but that's the main point.

Still too early in the year for Christmas music, I can't tolerate too much of it before the Winter Solstice, personally.

Meade said...

The only gift I hope to receive for Christmas is Christmas In The Heart.

Other than that, the health and well-being of my family, friends, and of all Althouse readers are what I'll be wishing for.

traditionalguy said...

Dylan reminds us that all public schools pre 1962 put on Christmas celebrations and sung these Songs that Dylan loves so much. Today's school Administrators would have everyone engaged in such holiday celebration fired or jailed.All blame for this travesty belongs squarely upon the Supreme Court Justices who proudly and deliberately misinterpreted the clear meaning contained in the words of the First Amendment.

Elliott A said...

Perhaps he is a true believer in the music, not the message. That should be enough. Too many of the pop star's Christmas songs sound like they are reading a shopping list. No respect for anything except the promised dollars from CD sales.

Elliott A said...

@ Traditional guy-

My high school German teacher was a holocaust survivor. We all sang Christmas carols in German. Heaven help you if your pronunciation wasn't up to snuff. They are an essential part of the culture. As a Jewish person, I always enjoy when I have the opportunity to help someone celebrate the season. Political correctness has exacted an awful toll on life in this country.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Well, if people want to listen to music from people who are true believers they should get one the many people who are eliminated in the auditions of American Idol to make an album. Almost all of them believe.

edutcher said...

tg, my thoughts, exactly.

Meade said...

The only gift I hope to receive for Christmas is Christmas In The Heart.

Other than that, the health and well-being of my family, friends, and of all Althouse readers are what I'll be wishing for.


Thank you, sir, and the same to you and your blushing bride.

traditionalguy said...

@ Elliott...The Christmas carols as reverent thanks given to God for giving men His Son keep their message so simple thru he centuries that a child can understand God's love. Try as the modern theologians may to assert unbelief, they have been unable to smoothly deny that Jesus of Nazareth was born. It's these facts of history that have always differentiated Judaism, and its sect called Christianity, from the other religious thought systems revealed as complete theories by various teachers quoting Angelic visitors.

Paul Snively said...

I don't know why people are so surprised to learn that Dylan is a man of faith. Everything he writes tells us that he's seen the worst of humanity—why humanity needs salvation—and transcendance—how something ineffable raises us above the squalor. And how often those things are found side-by-side.

EDH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EDH said...

If only Althouse could have gotten to Frosty in time to let him know.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Some critics are probably just being polite.

Sheepman said...

Great interview. Even when Dylan is claiming to be sincere there's usually irony and irreverence in the mix.

From the outside, look into Dylan's vision of an Xmas party.

Jen said...

Praise Odin for Supreme Court justices and school administrators.

Lem said...

Even when Dylan is claiming to be sincere there's usually irony and irreverence in the mix.

Have yourself a Merry Little Penumbra ;)

ot - Moving day for me today.. maybe offline for a while.

TMink said...

Bob Dylan really was baptized in Pat Boone's pool. His faith is a bit complicated, with him participating in serious Jewish and Christian traditions, but he is a believer in God. The particulars beyond that are a bit confusing to me.

Trey

Joe said...

I've grown to loathe Christmas music. That said, Dylan's contribution is to make all other Christmas music pure genius by comparison.

(Listening to Rod Stewart attempt to croon is almost as bad.)

pinkmonkeybird said...

Althouse.
Thanks for linking to this interview with Bob. I chuckled all the way through it. Bob is a master at understatement. I was disappointed that none of it got to his conversion to Christ and the current status of his faith...but maybe Bob had made a condition that the subject was verboten.
I can't help but take his final answer as a play on Citizen Kane, but I could be wrong. Maybe a sled really WAS his favorite gift.

chickenlittle said...

The only gift I hope to receive for Christmas is "Christmas In The Heart."

@Meade: Dylan's little surprise makes it worthwhile. Follow the link.