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the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009


...and want to hear them:


Anonymous Stephen said...

Oh, boy. Thank you so much, Michael. I'd resisted listening to these so far, and then I followed this 'You Tube' link to hell. This is grim listening. In fact, I bailed out after about 4 minutes. These are poor quality samples, but the singing really does sound gruesome. It's a shame because he has done so much good stuff in recent years in crooner mode: Moonlight, Return To Me, Miss The Mississippi etc. Maybe Dylan's unhappy with all that good press he's been getting lately; this should put a stop to that, at least. Still, I'll buy it of course, and it is for a good cause.

8:40 pm  
Anonymous Bev said...

Actually, it's not as bad as I thought it was going to be (I don't mean it's good; just not as bad...)

There's something knowingly amusing about it - juxtaposition of the voice and the material I guess. Maybe this won't finally take DITG crown as his worse studio album after all.

Besides, I think with this one we are best off viewing it as a detour from Bob's main albums, rather than anything more significant.

6:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael, I'm certain this won't change your perception of Dylan's "Heart" but in case you haven't seen it I thought you might find it interesting if nothing else. If only for the information about the musical line up. Pat Ford

By Stein Arne Nistad, Fidelity

Christmas In the Heart is not a new Bob Dylan CD. The fifteen tracks are picked mostly from the American Christmas tradition and include songs like “Here Comes Santa Claus”, “Winter Wonderland”, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” among others.

Dylan has loosened up over the last few years: He has finally stopped fighting his own legend. He recent records exposes humor, irony and is more playful than ever. It`s like he is thinking that life isn`t that serious after all. Dylan`s inspiration from traditional blues, jazz and music hall songs from the 1920 to 1950 is obvious. It`s manifested on “Love & Theft” from 2001 and is also the inspiration for “Modern Times” and is also recognizable on his more bluesy 2009 effort “Together through life”.

Dylan’s Christmas album is in an odd way inspired from the same tradition. The arrangements have a traditional and somewhat old aged sound.
Still the album has a modern touch. The sound and production is good. Dylan is singing nice and is really into it. His rusty voice filled with patina and age makes a very interesting contrast to the in many ways well known arrangements. His voice gives a new and sometimes unexpected feeling. If Santa has a voice, Dylan is probably the closest we ever get to hear it.

Obviously Dylan had a good time in the studio. It’s a lot of energy in the band and in Dylan’s performances. The record is packed with instruments spanning from accordion, steel guitars to strings, bells and drums. The band is based on his current touring band. Tony Garnier on bass, George Receli on drums and percussion, Don Herron on steel guitar, mandolin, violin and trumpet. Bob Dylan is playing guitar, electric piano and harmonica. The touring band is extended by David Hildalgo (Los Lobos) on guitar, accordion, mandolin and trumpet, Phil Upchurch on guitar and finally Patrick Warren on piano, organ and celeste. The band is backed by the four men and three women strong “Mixed Voice Singer”. They do a fantastic job bringing this record sounding like it was recorded back in the fifties.

Despite the fact that some of the arrangements and songs initially sound a bit strange, I soon recognize an underlying quality in almost every one of them. It’s strange, but I feel Dylan’s genius comes true and all of the songs on the record grow on me. As a Dylan fan I think “Christmas Blues” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” is the highlights of the album. “Must be Santa” is probably the only polka and the most up-tempo song Dylan ever has recorded. However the quality of this record is so high, that I am not able to spot one weak song, if you buy the idea and intention with this project.

Releasing a Christmas album is in my opinion the most unexpected, weird and surreal thing Dylan ever has done. When Dylan decided to enter the snowman-reindeer–Santa Claus business – what could we expect? Many Dylan fans will claim that this is the worst Dylan record ever. I disagree. Some of the songs express a kind of enjoyable madness. It works in a mysteriously way. I believe “Christmas In the Heart” will find it’s natural place in many people’s Christmas tradition, also among Dylan fans after the first shock.

This is probably the most interesting Christmas record ever released and Dylan has put a lot of effort and energy in doing this right. I love “Christmas in the Heart” and I tend to define it as a Dylan holyday masterpiece. It`s that good!

Norwegian magazine Fidelity #

10:50 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cool blog

with all respect to the legend
check out this

2:40 pm  

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