[Photo © William Gedney]
Bob Dylan’s Christmas In the Heart, track by track . . .
Imagine a bad Christmas. You’re alone in a strange city, half drunk,
lost, wandering amongst the fake cheer, the commercial decor, the
canned holiday music oozing out over the street.
An old rummy, someone in worse shape than you’re in, comes up to you
and grabs your hand and looks you in the eye and says, “Merry
Christmas,” as though he means it, as though he really believes
Christmas is going to be a new start for him, and for you.
It’s not much, but it could be enough to get you through the night.
“What a deluded old fool,” you might think at first, but you’re a
deluded old fool, too, and what choice do you have but faith? It’s
either that or go back to your hotel room and slit your wrists.
Christmas In the Heart, Bob Dylan’s heartbreaking Christmas album, is a
cry from that old man, a handshake from that old man, an irrational
gesture of hope from that old man.
The album opens with “Here Comes Santa Claus” — which has devolved
into “Here Comes the Holiday Shopping Season” in the popular mind. Its
words suggest other things.
Hang your stockings, say your prayers . . .
As Dylan sings, growls, “say your prayers,” he’s speaking from a place
of desperation, from the edge of the apocalypse. “Say your prayers” —
there’s nothing left to do but that. The last radio is playing.
He doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor
For he loves you just the same.
Santa knows that we’re God’s children
And that makes everything right.
Everything? Yes, Dylan’s voice testifies — everything.
Peace on earth will come to all
If we just follow the light.
Let’s give thanks to the Lord above
For Santa Claus comes tonight.
The song bounces along merrily into a transcendent vision. What’s
coming, right down Santa Claus Lane, is salvation.
Back to the Christmas In the Heart track list page.