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Guy From the North Country

Bob Dylan makes a Christmas album

Hadara Graubart
August 07, 2009
Dylan playing a TV Land special in June.(Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI)
Dylan playing a TV Land special in June.(Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI)

Upon hearing the news that Bob Dylan is recording a Christmas album, our first questions were “why?”, and “hasn’t he already done that?” Of course the answer to the latter is no, but we forgive ourselves for wondering, as there is a long history of Jews making Christmas music, which Tablet contributing editor Jody Rosen documented in his book White Christmas. (And, after all, the man was briefly Christian.) As for the first question, while no answer is immediately forthcoming, we might go further and ask why, specifically, two of the songs Dylan has already recorded for the album are the childish and musically unmoving “Must Be Santa” and “Here Comes Santa Claus”? The answer, obviously, is that Dylan knows a good opportunity for subversion when he sees one: according to David Mamet in his Nextbook Press book The Wicked Son, “The Santa Claus myth is a straightforward account of child sacrifice,” and contemporary parents’ reluctance to shatter their children’s belief in the magical gift-bearer mirrors “the anguish of a family in antiquity, knowing the tribe will choose, at the winter solstice, some child to be sacrificed.”

“Hang your stockings and say your prayers,” indeed!

Bob Dylan Recording Christmas Album [Bully Pulpit]
Related: A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs by David Lehman, coming soon from Nextbook Press

Hadara Graubart was formerly a writer and editor for Tablet Magazine.