Call me crazy, but I think Bob Dylan’s Christmas album is totally wonderful.
I feel like everyone is missing the point and that it’s supposed to be campy and a bit ridiculous. I mean, look at the picture he chose for the album cover! I feel like he knows how he sounds on these songs and doesn’t care or did the arrangements intentionally to clash a bit or poke fun. I also feel like none of that really matters because when I listen to it, I giggle and feel happy and Christmas-y and that’s the point isn’t it?
Listen to this great 5 minute critique from Ken Tucker on NPR’s Fresh Air. You can hear some of the tracks and Tucker pretty much agrees with me, but says it with perfect balance of mocking/love:
Among those criticisms is the odd complaint that Dylan’s voice sounds awful. I’m sorry, have you not been listening to Dylan for the past decade — or for his entire career? An imperfect vocal instrument is at once characteristic of Dylan and a limitation he’s frequently turned to his advantage. And as far as the idea that covering songs such as “Christmas Island” and “Here Comes Santa Claus” is cornball, well, the flip-side of cornball is amusement in context. Dylan, producing himself under the name “Jack Frost,” is surrounding himself with sweet choral voices and arrangements straight out of a 1960s middle-of-the-road or “countrypolitan” album. It’s just that instead of hearing Johnny Mathis or Eddy Arnold crooning, you have Dylan croaking with both solemnity and a wink.
Come on — that’s fun, in the manner of other Christmas songs ranging from Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby” to the Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping.”
And Dylan does make his slow, deliberate version of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” sound more like a threat than a promise.
(that’s accurate and hilarious)
And yet I love it. Darcy loves it too, although I suspect more ironically.
She had this to say about the album:
Someone needs to take the microphone away from Grandpa Dylan.
I can’t wait for the day after Thanksgiving when I am “allowed” to break out all the Christmas music and movies. I will be sharing this album with (or inflicting this album on) all my loved ones!