Bob Dylan: The Christmas Blues (2009)

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Bob Dylan: The Christmas Blues (2009)

No one would ask why Bob Dylan does something -- shilling for Victoria's Secret comes to mind -- or can be surprised by whatever it is.

That said, the Yuletide album Christmas in the Heart in 2009 did catch everyone by surprise. Dylan croaking through Here Comes Santa Claus, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Little Drummer Boy, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and other seasonal delights?

Not for everyone, and certainly very few Dylan fans.

There was a good reason for it however: money from sales went to various charities like Feeding America and the United Nations' World Food Programme.

And taken judiciously there were some pretty decent versions, if you imagine him to be channeling Tom Waits without the humour and irony.

The mad polka of Must Be Santa -- with Los Lobos' David Hidalgo on accordion -- is a whole heap of fun and probably the fastest song Dylan has sung in decades.

But we default to the Sammy Cahn-penned The Christmas Blues because . . .

Well, we just like it.

By the way if you haven't seen the album -- which has been given its first vinyl release in 2023 -- the front and back covers are fairly straight (the Magi on the back) but we like the inside sleeve pictured: it is a famous illustration of Fifties pin-up star Bettie Page pictured as Mrs Claus.

No wonder Santa is in a hurry to get home.

Enjoy or endure this as you will.

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For more one-offs, oddities or songs with an interesting backstory see From the Vaults

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Fred Muller - Dec 11, 2023

Soon after its initial release an astute reviewer (maybe it was you, Graham?!) wrote: Bob Dylan makes 'I'll be Home for Christmas' sound like a threat.

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