Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Beyond Incomprehensible

I have long felt that in our youth-oriented society the contributions of older artists and performers have often been unfairly overlooked.

In the world of music, for example, Gordon Lightfoot was pigeonholed as “The guy who wrote that Edmund Fitzgerald song” and his albums post-1976 were often ignored despite some real songwriting gems.

Another singer-songwriter I have long defended has been Bob Dylan. Sure… his early work is great beyond any reasonable dispute. But his newer work is often terrific as well. I will defend his 1997 song “Not Dark Yet” as one of his finest performances ever.

Yeah, his voice is rougher, but let’s face it… Bob was never really known as a great vocalist. And I think in certain contexts the fact his larynx is so ravaged actually suits the songs well.

But Mr. Dylan’s latest endeavor is shockingly strange to say the least. Even for Bob.

It’s a Christmas album.

Fifteen tracks of neuron-melting insanity. You can stream it online. Listen… if you dare.

Dylan croaks dryly on Christmas songs produced with a slickness that would send even the Osmonds into insulin shock.

Is it an elaborate inside joke? A cynical money-making ploy? Some sort of subversive statement on the commercial aspects of the holiday season? Does some holiday album producer have blackmail-worthy material on Bob? Has Dylan simply gone senile? That this album even exists on this planet is totally inconceivable.

I guess if there’s a bright side to any of this, it’s that the proceeds from the album will be going to an anti-hunger organization.

On the other hand, though, perhaps some things are worse than starvation.


  1. So I guess it's safe to assume he's back to being a Christian again.

  2. Not necessarily. Many Jewish people have recorded Christmas albums (Barbara Steisand and Neil Diamond come to mind).
    Hell, the most famous Christmas song of all time, "White Christmas", was written by Irving Berlin, who was a secular Jew. Which, I guess, just underscores the fact that Christmas isn't strictly a religious holiday anymore.
    Of course, with this Dylan Christmas album I think the question is less "what religion is he this week?" than "what planet is he from this week?"!

  3. Bart said it best:
    Christmas is a time when people of all religions come together to worship Jesus Christ."

  4. Thanks John. I've spent years looking for a good replacement for my standard Chia Pet Christmas gift; it appears that search has ended.

    Aaron Stengel