October 13, 2009

"Dylan plays things beyond straight, adhering to the syrupy, schlocky pop sounds of the pre-rock era...."

Bob Dylan's Chrismas album comes down the chimney.
When the star stumbles through "I'll Be Home for Christmas," he sounds like the family's disinherited black sheep embarrassment, delivering the sentiment as a threat rather than a promise. In "Winter Wonderland," when that treacly chorus coos, "We'll have lots of fun with Mr. Snowman," he sounds psychotic as he answers, "Until the other kids all knock him down!" And by the time he starts slaughtering the familiar Latin refrain of "Adeste fideles" -- "Venite adoremus Dominum" becomes, no kidding, "Benito adore-a-moose domino!" -- you don't know whether to wince or guffaw.


Revenant said...

He should see if William Shatner is available to cover for him.

Jason (the commenter) said...

He didn't write new songs? Bad idea.

I could see doing one song and including it in a compilation with other artists, but this is just plain selling out, especially since he changed his style.

Jason (the commenter) said...

This is 2009's lump of coal.

Better behave everyone!

Lockestep said...

It's a great gag gift for an office exchange. Just don't let anyone know you dropped it in the pile.

wv coens: Man, he's got a big set of coens for standing up to Pelosi.

chickenlittle said...

Dylan finally just got fed up with always having to be cool.

JohnAnnArbor said...

They let anyone make Christmas albums these days.

Even Billy Idol made one.

MadisonMan said...

There goes his Nobel Prize.

Bissage said...

Seven comments and still no reference to Santa’s progeny?

traditionalguy said...

The multi faceted Robert Zimmerman is a wonder to watch as he tries out every form of communication that interests his genius. Will he try blogging next? He could say a lot of interesting comments, but could we understand him?

Old RPM Daddy said...

@Traditionalguy: "Will he try blogging next?"

Commenting on President Obama's Nobel Prize, blogger Bob Dylan wrote: "Unyundah harave! Snevvy-snevvy?"

265 subtantive comments followed.

wv: oustundi -- everyone shed your drawers!

Freeman Hunt said...

Is that review supposed to make us want to buy it or not want to buy it?

Lem said...

Seven comments and still no reference to Santa’s progeny?

Anything progeny in the vicinity of Alaska and it’s a Sullivan dejavu all over again.

chickenlittle said...

Is that review supposed to make us want to buy it or not want to buy it?

Regardless-I'm buying it because I think it's cool.

wv: "psesto" pseudo pesto?

Sheepman said...

I've heard some of the complete songs at YouTube and they sound better than the short samples that were online. Still, very weird. Perhaps after a few eggnogs.

You can here the whole album here and

Chip Ahoy said...


One of the objects to be sold on Craigslist that we photographed was a rather large microphone, the kind that looks like a giant gel capsule on a stand, much larger than an ordinary microphone. Completely incongruent in the tiny apartment. I also noticed music displayed on the computer screen, I asked, "Are you singing, or what?" My friend goes,

"Yes. I just made an album of songs to send to my mother."

"May I hear it, please?"

Sheepishly, he answered,


He put it on. I was blown away by the excellence of my friend's singing voice. He had never given any idea he had any interest in singing.

The songs on the album were all old-timey classics. I think. Something about smile let your heart be merry, and I'll be home for Christmas are two I remember right now. A little bit boring but that did not subtract from my astonishment. His voice + that music was a little bit sad. They seemed slower than they should have been. I could easily imagine his mother weeping at listening to it. He said he bought a karaoke album online for $9.50, summat, then sang to it. (one he wouldn't let me hear because the tempo was bolloxed)


kentuckyliz said...

I'll Be Home For Christmas
delivered as a threat

I'm using that

kentuckyliz said...

WV gyrisfu

God, You Richly Insured Senators F***ed Up!

Noticed while submitting last comment.

Kensington said...

I want this album, and Chip Ahoy's friend's album, too.

Freeman Hunt wrote:
"Is that review supposed to make us want to buy it or not want to buy it?"

Oh, it's definitely a pan.

On a side note, didn't Dylan go back to being a Jew? Why is he making Christmas albums?

Freeman Hunt said...

The review makes it sound so bad that you should buy it.

TMink said...


I like Dylan, and I love Christmas Music. This sucks. There is so much phlegm in Dylan's voice it sounds like a mucinex advertisement.


Freeman Hunt said...

The converse of the Chip's story:

One of the best jokes I have ever witnessed was orchestrated by the warehouse manager at the company I used to work for. He recorded himself singing various hits of the last twenty years and put the songs on a CD. It was horrendously bad. Strange tempos, off-key notes, straining to sound like the voices of originals.

He brought the CD to work and played it all week in the warehouse, straight-facedly telling everyone that it was his "demo." Everyone in the warehouse had to listen to it, and almost every worker who happened through the warehouse came back saying, "Gosh, have you heard [Steve's] demo? It's really horrible. I feel bad for him."

The whole thing was a put on, but he never copped to it.

Now that is comedic art.

Lem said...

The review makes it sound so bad..

Just try another player ;)

phx said...

Newspaper hacks have been having fun at Dylan's expense for years and years. It's like they think it's their big moment.

Not one of them has a name that's known, let alone that will be remembered after a few minutes.

kathleen said...

"he sounds like the family's disinherited black sheep embarrassment"

uh, he always sounded like that. that was part of the appeal.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

"adhering to the syrupy, schlocky pop sounds of the pre-rock era...."
Bob Dylan's Chrismas album comes

As opposed to the tuneless, schlocky sounds of 60's folk music.

Pogo said...

It sounds like the original Shagg's album, with an Xmas tune track added to every cut.

Listen to the Shaggs strangely awesome and horrible My Pal Foot Foot.

It still frightens me so; just imagine it done with a Jingle Bells refrain.

Bissage said...

Thank you, Pogo!

I convinced Mrs. Bissage to come here and listen to that.

About a third of the way into it, she walked out of the room.

I said, “What, no comment?”

She said, “All right then . . . that is deeply disturbing.”


Hey . . . I thought it was GREAT!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!

Photog714 said...

Another Bob Dylan post ...

::::: huuuge yawn :::::

Penny said...

Hey, it's Christmas! Wouldn't be right if we weren't parting a fool from his money.

Elliott A said...

I don't believe someone raised in a Jewish home can ever do a convincing Christmas song. Even if they can sing.

chickenlittle said...

Why don't you put a supporting link here when it goes on sale?

I want to help support Althouse and Bob Dylan this Christmas.

elpolacko said...

this album comes as no suprise to anyone who has listened to the show that dylan dee-jays on satellite radio. he's a BIG fan of "syrupy, schlocky pop sounds of the pre-rock era."

Diamondhead said...

Nice review there, Mr. Jones


Clyde said...

Lots of writers, artists, directors, musicians, etc., eventually get involved in a project whose results make people ask, "What were you thinking?!" I think this is that project for Dylan. Fortunately for him, he's in his 70s, so he won't have too many more years of cringing every time he hears Christmas music. If he'd made a record like this in his twenties, he could have had six or seven decades of regrets.

It might not have been so bad if the concept hadn't been so cognitively dissonant. If he'd set out to be transgressive and make a Christmas album with a punk band or something like that, it might have worked. But this? It's like getting a Whitman's Sampler, opening it up and when you bite into the first chocolate, it has a Limburger cheese center. The next one is filled with sauerkraut, the next one with burned bacon, the next one with Habanero pepper. Some folks might like those taste combinations, but most would not.

The funny thing is that for syrupy, schlocky pop Christmas music, it's not bad except for the Dylan vocals. I mostly liked the arrangements, the instrumentation and the background vocals. But as a singer, Dylan's a great songwriter. He'd never win on a show like "American Idol."

Dad Bones said...

I couldn't listen to it but Dylan might make a good Christmas czar.

XWL said...

I reviewed it, and I liked this strange little project.

I can understand not liking it, but I think the combination of the 'shlocky' arrangements, and Dylan's voice, is a compelling marriage of disparate elements.

Were it not so immediately clear that he has a sincere love for this music, and his approach hadn't been so joyous, I think it would have been a failure, but his love is clear, and even through the gravel, you can hear the joy.

(I think a lot of the negativity directed at this project, is due to its sincerity, it's simply not acceptable to embrace wholeheartedly Christmas spriit, for some)