Bob Dylan’s Christmas Album (Part 1)

Seth Rogovoy, author of Bob Dylan: Prophet, Mystic, Poet, is guest-blogging all week for MyJewishLearning and the Jewish Book Council.
My new book, Bob Dylan: Prophet, Mystic, Poet (Scribner) — a critical biography of the rock poet that examines his life and work through a Jewish prism — hasn’t even been officially published yet (that happens next Tuesday, Nov. 24), but already I’m getting used to having to address the question on everyone’s minds: But what about the Christmas album? Continue reading here.

19 responses to “Bob Dylan’s Christmas Album (Part 1)

  1. Umm.. It don’t take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows?

  2. no one has been more transparent than bob; he’s given more interviews than anyone on the planet; he wrote Chronicles v. 1 and even shared that he thought he might be headed to the rubber room in the 80’s, that he had visions of being reduced to going through trash cans; he has a long segment being interviewed on 60 minutes; he shares everything he is or has been in his music. The problem isn’t that he is hiding, it’s that few people can see who he is because he isn’t presenting a false, phony, slick, smiley, contrived, ordinary, media-defined picture of himself to the world. On 60 minutes he was asked 3 times about the great “honor” of having his song Like a Rolling Stone named as best rock song ever by Rolling Stone magazine. He finally said, “I don’t pay attention to that stuff; you’re on the list this year, off the list next year.” That kind of comment by bob is always portrayed as lack of cooperation with the interviewer because most folks are so conditioned that they actually think a comment like, “I am so proud of this honor and I want, especially, to thank my many fans who have made this possible” is real, when, in fact, it’s just a media-pop culture-driven pretend-reality. Bob confounds not be hiding but by revealing. He’s done it from the early 60’s to this very moment in time.

  3. Exactly…the work stands (or falls) on its own…and this holiday album, most of all, evinces no need for interpretation – it’s a hoot, nothing more…

  4. If you don’t love “Must be Santa” I just don’t know if I can trust you!!

  5. It was confounding at first, and also intruiging, to hear that Dylan was bringing out a Christmas album. Indeed, t turns out that the album is a hoot, as Larry says. I think it’s also in some degree a homage to the songs – many of them by Jewish composers – and an exploration of the strange (Nordic, Christian, Dickensian and Popular) tradition of Christmas. But first and foremost, it’s a hoot .. with lots of sublime moments. Once it seeps into the culture, as so much of Dylan’s work has done, it may become one of the most enduring of holiday albums. And if so, there will be hungry families fed from the proceeds for a long time to come.

  6. Dylan’s “ever-elusive religious beliefs”? On his current tour he’s singing about Jesus returning – pretty clear what he believes.

    Now, this may upset his Jewish fans/followers, but cheer up, remember – Bob’s human, and humans make mistakes 🙂

  7. The term “superiority complex”, in everyday usage, refers to an overly high opinion of oneself; in psychology, it refers to the unrealistic and exaggerated belief that one is better than others.

  8. I don’t think it matters one bit what bob believes; what matters to me is what I believe; what matters to you is what you believe. BTW, you can sing about Jesus all you want or Santa all you want and not believe in Jesus or Santa. I mean it is possible. Isn’t it? Now that’s just a question of how the world works, not what someone believes.

  9. This seasonal offering from Dylan makes perfect sense in a sardonic, mystical way. These are good songs roughed up, nudged and tweaked like our times deserve.
    A meaningful hoot from a holy coot.
    All has to do with the anger and frustration of our day. This is deeper than religion.

  10. I would take Bob at his word(s) – and if he’s singing heartfelt songs about Jesus, I’s assume he believes what he’s singing.

    Maybe not so re Santa.

    As far as ‘mattering’, in the grand scheme of thing, we are our brother’s keepers, aren’t we?

    With God’s help, Bob should raise a lot of money for the worthy charities.

  11. Just to continue an interesting discussion: Bob’s album released just a few months before the Christmas album has a song called “Beyond Here Lies Nothing” and it surely sounds heartfelt and he’s performing it live these days. If he believes in Jesus, how can he believe that beyond here lies nothing? Bob singing “Gonna Change my way of Thinking” does not, by itself, prove that he believes in Jesus. That can be demonstrated a hundred times in a hundred ways. It is clear that some fans really really want Bob to be a Christian and some really really want him to be Jewish. Others really really want him to be an an atheist. By the way, his latest video (“Here Comes Santa”) shows bob at a very drunken Christmas party with cute babes and fighting and dancing and he seems to be having a heck of a good time (serves up a few drinks himself from behind the bar!). Doesn’t seem very religious to me, though that really doesn’t mean anything. Just saying.

  12. Pingback: Tweets that mention Bob Dylan’s Christmas Album « Jewish Book Council Blog --

  13. Mistake: the video is “Must be Santa.” Sorry for the mistake.

  14. Pingback: Bob Dylan’s Christmas Album: The Jewish Contribution to the ‘Holiday’ Genre (Part 2) « Jewish Book Council Blog

  15. Pingback: The Meaning of Bob Dylan’s Christmas Album: The Music (Part 3) « Jewish Book Council Blog

  16. Hey Dale-

    I don’t think anyone can take away Judaism or it’s profound influence on Bob Dylan it’s who he is. But to say “Trying to mine any biographical truth about Bob Dylan from his songs or actions is a fruitless, hopeless task. ” or that he has “ever-elusive religious beliefs” is just false and a cop-out.

    Down that road lies trouble for the author because it is not possible to reach a conclusion he is happy with.

  17. I agree Wiley. The blog author is clearly trapped by the belief that Bob is trying to hide when, as I said before, no one on the popular scene is as transparent as the bobster! Dylan is also obviously hugely influenced by the bible. My best friend, an 82 year old atheist and the nicest smartest person I have ever met, loves the bible more than any other book, even his beloved Greek tragedies and Shakespeare!

  18. Pingback: Bob Dylan’s Christmas Album: What Good Is It? (Part 4) « Jewish Book Council Blog

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