What’s the oddest thing about Christmas In the Heart? The fact that Bob Dylan didn’t record a Christmas album when he was a born-again Christian or the fact that a Bob Dylan Christmas album actually exists? I’m going with the sheer existence of such an album. But really, upon consideration of Dylan’s fascination with Americana it’s not that surprising. Especially if you look at the songs he has on the album – mostly traditional Christmas songs.
Almost every one who doesn’t like Dylan (or only like him casually) will comment on his voice. But really, commenting that Dylan can’t sing is such an old argument. (I for one think he actually can, and happen to like his voice.) But as always, there are ways that Dylan sings and performs that only he can get away with. Which in this case, give an interesting twist on traditional Holiday favorites. Most of the songs are low-key in a folksy way, with the exception of the polka-blast of “Must Be Santa” – which is already destined to become a Holiday classic with it’s sing-along chorus. It’s amusing to hear Dylan pronounce Christmas as “Chris-mussssss” or muse “that we’ll have to muddle through somehow,” at the end of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
Do You Hear What I Hear? is almost funny when Dylan asks, “Do you know what I know?” or instructs us to “Listen to what I say.” As always with Christmas albums, Little Drummer Boy needs to go in a moratorium. There are only two people have done a good version of that song – Bing Crosby was one. David Bowie was the other.
Overall, it’s pretty much what I expected. That being said, it’s already in my top 3 Christmas albums of all time. (For what it’s worth my list goes like this: A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector, John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together, and Dylan.)
I was just in Baltimore’s Soundgarden (which by the way is one of the best record stores in the Maryland area) and heard one of Julian Casablancas’ new songs from his solo album, Phrazes For The Young. I’m not the biggest fan of the Strokes – I think they had a great debut, but Room on Fire more of a rehash of the same, with a couple of good songs thrown in for good measure. The ones that sounded the best were the ones that didn’t sound like Is This It. I just kind of wrote them off after that. (Although Albert Hammond’s Yours To Keep was pretty good even if it sound like the Strokes.) I just assumed that Casablancas would write another Strokes album with his name replacing the band. Not that far fetched considering he wrote all the songs anyway.
I was actually quite surprised by what I heard. Casablancas has a pretty distinct voice, so it was easy to tell it was him singing, but the music was pretty removed from the garage-rock rivial of the Strokes. Instead of fuzzed out guitars, “The Tourist” was propelled by a drum-loop and that kept pounding, and keyboards. The bridge was pretty interesting as well – containing more keyboards and and synthesizers that sounded like they belonged on a Mega Man Video game. It was quite eerie and catchy at the same time. Not something that I was expecting from Casablancas. I’m interested to hear the rest some point soon, but I ended up buying Elvis Costello’s Secret Profane, and Sugarcane instead only because that was what I came in for.
Happy Friday! This is fucking awesome. Seriously only U2 can perform with Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen and Jay-Z in the same week. More later, but enjoy this for now.
Had a quite a laugh over this performance. And I thought they were bad before:
Luke Lewis blog on NME’s website says what I’ve been saying for years – Nirvana’s Nevermind is overrated. While I love lists of best albums and songs, I’m always frustrated that Nirvana is at the top of the list. I admit that I liked them when I was younger, their music is good for that. Many teenagers have their Led Zeppelin and Nirvana phase. You know – the phase where all they every think about is sex (see Led Zeppelin) or feel angry (see Nirvana.)
I love when musicians talk about the album in retrospect and suggest that it was “so raw”. Please. Anybody ever listen to Raw Power? It’s also laughable that Kurt Cobain is considered a great guitarist. But as far as influence goes, I think Nirvana’s influence gave rock music one of its worst genres – post grunge. Bands like Creed, Nickleback, Shinedown, Papa Roach and other insist on using the soft verse/loud chorus song arrangement like they’ve never a song written any other way.
That being said, I don’t totally hate Nirvana. I think their Unplugged CD is great. But unfortunately at the same time, the best performances also happen to be the songs that aren’t theirs.