Bob Dylan has at various times revolutionised folk, rock, country and gospel music. However, any Dylan fan who says he was not surprised that Bob has released an album of traditional Christmas songs is pulling your leg. Christmas In The Heart is another surprising move by an artist famous for surprises. Yet when you hear Dylan's direct and obviously sincere readings of ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’, ‘Little Town Of Bethlehem’ and ‘The First Noel’, this unlikely exercise seems of a piece with the rest of Dylan's work.
From the very first, this was an artist who made us look at the familiar with new eyes and ears. While some critics tie themselves into knots analyzing Dylan's motives, it has usually turned out that Bob Dylan means exactly what he says.
For the first half or so of this article, I had to think that Bob Dylan must be one of the world's worst interview subjects. Ultimately I realize that he is, but not for the reason I thought. You shouldn't have to explain what art is about. If you do, then either the art has failed, or the viewer/listener has. And at this late date, Dylan knows what he's doing and what he's capable of.
Your version of ‘The Christmas Song’ is right in the pocket. You slide into that song like you’ve been singing it all your life. You also sing the intro (“All through the year we waited…”) which most people leave out. I don’t think Nat King Cole used that intro – why did you bring it back? Well, I figured the guy who wrote it put it in there deliberately.
Bwah hah. What a wild idea: Sing the song as written.