Bob Dylan’s latest album, Christmas In The Heart, is an unusual collection of Christmas standards. All proceeds from the album will go to support homeless services. Dylan granted an interview exclusive to members of the North American Street Newspaper Association to talk about the album.
Bob Dylan has at various times revolutionized folk, rock, country, and gospel music. However, any Dylan fan who claims not to have been surprised that Bob has released an album of traditional Christmas songs is pulling your leg. Christmas In The Heart is another surprising move by an artist famous for surprises. Yet when you hear Dylan’s direct and obviously sincere readings of “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Little Town Of Bethlehem,” and “The First Noel,” this unlikely exercise seems of a piece with the rest of Dylan’s work.
From the very first, this was an artist who made us look at the familiar with new eyes and ears. While some critics tie themselves into knots analyzing Dylan’s motives, it has usually turned out that Bob Dylan means exactly what he says. Featuring members of his touring band along with Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo and Chess Records vet Phil Upchurch, Christmas In The Heart is Bob Dylan’s celebration of family, community, faith, and shared memory. And a timely celebration it is. Recognizing the worldwide problem of hunger, Bob Dylan has donated all of his proceeds from the record, in perpetuity, to organizations around the world to help with hunger and homelessness.
We sat down to talk in the Waterfront Plaza Hotel in Oakland on a rainy, windy, October day.
To read this article in full, get a copy from a local Street Sheet vendor. If you’re not in San Francisco, there’s a good chance your local street paper is running the interview.