Christmas in the Heart

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Christmas in the Heart
A painting of a man and woman in a sleigh pulled by two horses over snow
Studio album by Bob Dylan
Released October 13, 2009 (2009-10-13)
Recorded 2009, Santa Monica, California, United States
Genre Christmas music
Length 42:21
Language English
Label Columbia
Producer Jack Frost (Bob Dylan's pseudonym)
Bob Dylan chronology
Together Through Life
(2009)
Christmas in the Heart
(2009)
The Bootleg Series Vol. 9: The Witmark Demos: 1962–1964
(2010)

Christmas in the Heart is the thirty-fourth studio album and first Christmas album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on October 13, 2009 by Columbia Records. The album comprises a collection of hymns, carols, and popular Christmas songs. All Dylan's royalties from the sale of this album benefited the charities Feeding America in the USA, Crisis in the UK, and the World Food Programme.[1] This album marks the first time since 1965 that Dylan recorded and released two studio albums within a single calendar year, when Bringin' It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited were released respectively.

Dylan said that, although Jewish, he never felt left out of Christmas during his childhood in Minnesota. Regarding the popularity of Christmas music, he said, "... it's so worldwide and everybody can relate to it in their own way."[2]

The album opened at #1 on Billboard's Holiday and Billboard's Folk Album Chart, #10 on Rock Album charts and #23 on overall album charts.

Recording[edit]

In an interview published by Street News Service, journalist Bill Flanagan asked Dylan why he had performed the songs in a straightforward style, and Dylan responded: "There wasn’t any other way to play it. These songs are part of my life, just like folk songs. You have to play them straight too." When Flanagan reported that some critics thought the album was an ironic treatment of Christmas songs, Dylan responded: "Critics like that are on the outside looking in. They are definitely not fans or the audience that I play to. They would have no gut level understanding of me and my work, what I can and can't do—the scope of it all. Even at this point in time they still don’t know what to make of me."[3]

Tracks were recorded in a Santa Monica studio owned by Jackson Browne.

Release and promotion[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars [4]
A.V. Club B−[5]
The Chicago Tribune 2/4 stars [6]
Robert Christgau (1-star Honorable Mention)[7]
Drowned In Sound 5/10[8]
The Guardian 4/5 stars [9]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[10]
Slant Magazine 4/5 stars [11]
Sputnikmusic 2.5/5 stars [12]
Uncut 2/5 stars [13]

Dylan released a music video for the song "Must Be Santa" directed by Nash Edgerton. In the video, Dylan and some other people are having a Christmas house party, until two of the guests start fighting and smashing things around and one of them running away. In the closing scene, we see Dylan and Santa Claus.[14] A music video was also released for the song "Little Drummer Boy".

A music video ecard[15] was also released for the song "Must Be Santa".

Reception[edit]

Its collective score at Metacritic stands at 62 out of 100 based on 17 reviews, indicating generally favorable reviews.[16] The unexpected move by Dylan to record a Christmas album was received with skepticism at first. The outcome of the project was lauded by critics for bringing a fresh breath of air into these classics. Slant Magazine's critic Jesse Cataldo said "This enjoyable sense of exploration, which prizes levity in a genre that usually amounts to an artistic wasteland, is invaluable. It also proves how much life is left in the songs, and how much other artists have succeeded at butchering them." Se7en magazine's critic agreed, writing "The arrangement of his band mixes up the style of the songs, resulting in a repertoire of Christmas songs that genuinely sound like modern material, while avoiding ever being cliché."[17][18][19]

Charity project[edit]

It's a tragedy that more than 35 million people in this country alone—12 million of those children—often go to bed hungry and wake up each morning unsure of where their next meal is coming from. I join the good people of Feeding America in the hope that our efforts can bring some food security to people in need during this holiday season.

Bob Dylan [20]

Feeding America will receive Dylan's royalties from sales in the USA, while two further charities, the United Nations' World Food Programme and Crisis in the UK, will receive royalties from overseas sales. Dylan said: "That the problem of hunger is ultimately solvable means we must each do what we can to help feed those who are suffering and support efforts to find long-term solutions. I'm honoured to partner with the World Food Programme and Crisis in their fight against hunger and homelessness."[21]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Here Comes Santa Claus" (Gene Autry, Oakley Haldeman)  – 2:35
  2. "Do You Hear What I Hear?" (Noël Regney, Gloria Shayne Baker) – 3:02
  3. "Winter Wonderland" (Felix Bernard, Richard B. Smith) – 1:52
  4. "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" (Tune : Mendelssohn, Lyrics : Wesley, arr. Dylan) – 2:30
  5. "I'll Be Home for Christmas" (Buck Ram, Kim Gannon and Walter Kent) – 2:54
  6. "Little Drummer Boy" (Katherine K. Davis, Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone) – 2:52
  7. "The Christmas Blues" (Sammy Cahn, David Jack Holt) – 2:54
  8. "O' Come All Ye Faithful" ("Adeste Fideles") (Traditional, arr. Dylan) – 2:48
  9. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane) – 4:06
  10. "Must Be Santa" (William Fredericks, Hal Moore) – 2:48
  11. "Silver Bells" (Jay Livingston, Ray Evans) – 2:35
  12. "The First Noel" (Traditional, arr. Dylan) – 2:30
  13. "Christmas Island" (Lyle Moraine) – 2:27
  14. "The Christmas Song" (Mel Tormé, Bob Wells) – 3:56
  15. "O Little Town of Bethlehem" (Traditional, arr. Dylan) – 2:17

Personnel[edit]

Additional musicians
  • Amanda Barrett, Bill Cantos, Randy Crenshaw, Abby DeWald, Nicole Eva Emery, Walt Harrah, Robert Joyce — choir
Technical personnel
  • Bob Dylan — producer
  • David Bianco — recording, mixing
  • Bill Lane — assistant engineering
  • David Spreng — additional engineering
  • Glen Suravech — assistant engineering
  • Rich Tosti, Ed Wong — studio support
Artwork
  • Olivia De Berandis — inside cover illustration
  • Ewin Fotheringham — back cover illustration
  • Leonard Freed/Magnum Photos — inside photo
  • Coco Shinomiya — design
  • VisualLanguage.com — front cover

Charts[edit]

Chart (2009) Peak
Austria Albums Chart[22] 44
Belgian (Flanders) Albums Chart[22] 22
Belgian (Wallony) Albums Chart 89
Canada Albums Chart 33
Denmark Albums Chart[22] 14
Dutch Albums Chart[22] 34
French Albums Chart[22] 119
Germany Albums Chart[22] 37
Norway Albums Chart[22] 5
Irish Albums Chart[22] 34
Italy Albums Chart[22] 27
Spain Albums Chart[22] 54
Sweden Albums Chart[22] 6
Switzerland Albums Chart[22] 80
UK Albums Chart[22] 40
US Billboard 200 Albums Chart[22] 23
US Billboard Holiday Albums Chart[22] 1
US Billboard Folk Albums Chart[23] 1
US Billboard Rock Albums Chart 9

References[edit]

  1. ^ "CAFAmerica to distribute royalities [sic] from Bob Dylan's Christmas album to Crisis". UK Fundraising. 2009-12-14. Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  2. ^ Bob Dylan brings Christmas cheer to those without homes, Reuters, November 26, 2009
  3. ^ Flanagan, Bill (2009-11-23). "Bob Dylan Discusses Holiday Music, Christmas and Feeding The Hungry With Bill Flanagan". Street News Service. Retrieved 2009-11-26. [dead link]
  4. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Christmas in the Heart at AllMusic
  5. ^ Matos, Michaelangelo (2012-02-10). "A.V. Club review". Avclub.com. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  6. ^ "The Chicago Tribune review". Leisureblogs.chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  7. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Artist 169". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 11 September 2011. 
  8. ^ Ward, Mark (2009-10-26). "Drowned In Sound review". Drownedinsound.com. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  9. ^ Richard Williams (2009-12-10). "The Guardian review". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  10. ^ "Rolling Stone review". Rollingstone.com. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  11. ^ "Slant Magazine review". Slantmagazine.com. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  12. ^ "Sputnikmusic review". Sputnikmusic.com. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  13. ^ "(magazine) review". Uncut. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  14. ^ "Premiere: Bob Dylan's Must Be Santa Video From Christmas LP | Music News". Rolling Stone. 2009-11-16. Retrieved 2012-02-09. 
  15. ^ "eCard Music Video – Bob Dylan – Christmas in the Heart". Hdgreetings.com. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  16. ^ "Bob Dylan - Christmas In The Heart". Metacritic. Retrieved 2009-12-06. 
  17. ^ "Politics, Film, Music and Culture – A soundtrack for the holidays – Bob Dylan does Christmas". Se7en Magazine. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  18. ^ "Isn't it ironic? Dylan surprises again with holiday CD - 2009-Dec-02 - CultureMap Houston". Culturemap.com. Retrieved 2012-02-09. 
  19. ^ "Music". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2013-07-25. 
  20. ^ "Dylan to release Christmas album". BBC News. 2009-08-27. Retrieved 2010-06-29. 
  21. ^ "Dylan royalties for Crisis charity". Daily Mirror. 2009-09-24. Retrieved 2009-10-24. 
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Christmas in the Heart". aCharts. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  23. ^ Trust, Gary. Chart Beat Thursday: John Mayer, Folk Albums, David Guetta . Billboard. November 26, 2009. Retrieved December 6, 2009.

External links[edit]