In the new issue, I reviewed Bob Dylan’s Christmas in the Heart, which I think has received a lot of cheap negative reviews based on the simple premise that it’s funny and bad if someone with his voice sings Christmas songs. Jody Rosen answers the “Is it a joke?” question here, writing:
Christmas in the Heart is less a joke or a provocation than a polemic. He’s harnessing his unrivaled cred to remind us that Christmas ditties are as deeply American—and often, as just plain deep—as anything Alan Lomax ever recorded in an Appalachian holler. Singing (or rasping) “Silver Bells” and “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and “Here Comes Santa Claus,” Dylan is the haggard, haunting voice of the musical collective unconscious—our Ghost of Christmas Past.
and Dylan himself did here, saying:
Critics like that are on the outside looking in. They are definitely not fans or the audience that I play to.They would have no gut level understanding of me and my work, what I can and can’t do – the scope of it all. Even at this point in time they don’t know what to make of me. These songs are part of my life, just like folk songs. You have to play them straight, too… The songs don’t require much acting. They kind of play themselves.