Before I get to Christmas in the Heart, I want to recite some of my Dylan credentials. I have been buying Bob Dylan albums since August of 1967. I have owned all of his early releases on vinyl, 8 track tapes, cassettes and later on CD. I have played and loved all of his 33 studio albums except for Knocked Out Loaded, Down in the Groove and the two acoustic mistakes Good as I Been to You and World Gone Wrong. I even liked Self Portrait when it was released and still play it to this day. His music has been the background of my life for over 40 years
When it comes to bootleg albums, I probably could have bought a small house or a large car with the money I have spent. It started with the Great White Wonder (see my post from April 23, 2009). Since then, the collection has progressed from reel to reel tapes to vinyl and later to cassettes and CDs. In the early days, I even bought cassettes from the infamous Dylan Garbologist A.J. Weberman. Recently, thanks to the Internet, the great Moe has been the source of many rarities.
I still have the scrapbook of clippings of all things Dylan that I started in 1968. I have collected as much 66 tour memorabilia as I could get my hands on. My library contains almost every book published on Bob. The walls are covered with vintage photographs by Barry Feinstein, Jerry Schatzberg and many others. It is a veritable shrine to my favorite musician.
Starting with the 1974 tour, I have seen Bob in every major live phase except for the Rolling Thunder Revue and the Christian Tour of 1979. Although I haven't been a crazy BobCat who follows the tour around, I have managed to catch a show on the Never Ending Tour every year since it started. You can read about my recent experiences in posts from August 16, 2008 and July 22, 2009.
I have seen many memorable shows including one in Houston, Texas in 1981 that included Al Kooper on keyboards. Another show in the summer of 1997, just before the release of Time Out of Mind, signaled the beginning of the last great comeback. I have seen a few bad ones as well. A show in Corpus Christi with G.E. Smith in the band, in the low times of the hoodie and mushroom tea, was awesomely bad.
With this as background, you can imagine that I was quite interested when the first rumors of a Christmas album surfaced. Having just been to a live show which made me familiar with the current state of Bob's vocal talents, my first thought was: "Oh No!" This is a disaster waiting to happen. Bob can't sing these songs.
Now that I have heard the audio clips, I am afraid my worst fears have been realized. Bob, what were you thinking? I know this is a for a charitable cause and I salute that, but it is going to be a critical barbecue. When the critics hear the entire album, there is going to be a blood bath.
I can remember the bashing that Self Portrait took when it came out. Bob was King in those days and even Rolling Stone lowered the boom on him over that one. My prediction is that this album is going to make Self Portrait look like Highway 61 Revisited. I love you Bob, but not for Christmas. There isn't enough eggnog in the world to make this record sound good. It Ain't Tree, Babe.
If you want to own a great Christmas album, check out A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector buy it. It is the gold standard of Christmas albums.