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
ReleasedOctober 13, 2009 (2009-10-13)
RecordedMay 2009, Santa Monica, California, United States[1]
GenreChristmas music
ProducerJack Frost (Bob Dylan's pseudonym)
Bob Dylan chronology
Together Through Life
Christmas in the Heart
The Bootleg Series Vol. 9: The Witmark Demos: 1962–1964

Christmas in the Heart is the 34th 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.[2]

Dylan said that, although he was born and raised Jewish (he converted to Christianity in the late 1970s), 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."[3]

The album opened at No.  1 on Billboard's Holiday and Billboard's Folk Album Chart, No.  10 on Rock Album charts and No.  23 on overall album charts.


The album was recorded in a Santa Monica studio owned by Jackson Browne.

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.[4]

Release and promotion[edit]

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.[5]

A music video was also released for the song "Little Drummer Boy" directed by Jeff Scher.

A music video ecard[6] was also released for the song "Must Be Santa".


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
Allmusic3/5 stars[9]
The A.V. ClubB−[10]
Robert Christgau(1-star Honorable Mention)[11]
The Guardian4/5 stars[12]
Pitchfork Media6.8/10[14]
PopMatters7/10 stars[15]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[16]
Slant Magazine4/5 stars[17]
Tiny Mix Tapes4/5 stars[18]

At Metacritic, the album currently holds a score of 62 out of 100 based on 17 reviews, indicating generally favorable reviews.[19]

While 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.[20]

Slant Magazine's critic Jesse Cataldo awarded the album 4 stars out of 5 and 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.[21]

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.[22]

The critic for Tiny Mix Tapes rated the album 4 stars out of 5, writing:

On Christmas in the Heart... it's not the heat, but the bitter cold, the kind you feel in northern Minnesnowta[sic]. These are traditional numbers, aged but not antiquated. In keeping with releases like Good as I Been to You and World Gone Wrong, the album features Dylan exorcising the musical spirits of the land. Some will rank it among other gimcrack releases, like Dylan & the Dead. Still others will categorize it as an oddity, like Self Portrait. It's all and none of these. These songs are Dylan's latest exploits, but they're deathly sincere (and jolly), as serious and kitschy as Theme Time Radio Hour. It's the music that introduces old Disney films, an album as dense and allusive as his other recent outings.[18]

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[23]

Feeding America received Dylan's royalties from sales in the USA, while two further charities, the United Nations' World Food Programme and Crisis in the UK, received 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."[24]

Track listing[edit]

1."Here Comes Santa Claus"Gene Autry, Oakley Haldeman2:35
2."Do You Hear What I Hear?"Noël Regney, Gloria Shayne Baker3:02
3."Winter Wonderland"Felix Bernard, Richard B. Smith1:52
4."Hark the Herald Angels Sing"Felix Mendelssohn (music), Charles Wesley (lyrics), arranged by Bob Dylan2:30
5."I'll Be Home for Christmas"Buck Ram, Kim Gannon and Walter Kent2:54
6."The Little Drummer Boy"Katherine K. Davis, Henry Onorati, Harry Simeone2:52
7."The Christmas Blues"Sammy Cahn, David Jack Holt2:54
8."O' Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)"Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan2:48
9."Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane4:06
10."Must Be Santa"William Fredericks, Hal Moore2:48
11."Silver Bells"Jay Livingston, Ray Evans2:35
12."The First Noel"Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan2:30
13."Christmas Island"Lyle Moraine2:27
14."The Christmas Song"Mel Tormé, Bob Wells3:56
15."O Little Town of Bethlehem"Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan2:17


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


  • Olivia De Berandis – inside cover illustration
  • Ewin Fotheringham – back cover illustration
  • Leonard Freed/Magnum Photos – inside photo
  • Coco Shinomiya – design
  • – front cover


Chart (2009) Peak
Austria Albums Chart[25] 44
Belgian (Flanders) Albums Chart[25] 22
Belgian (Wallonia) Albums Chart 89
Canada Albums Chart 33
Denmark Albums Chart[25] 14
Dutch Albums Chart[25] 34
French Albums Chart[25] 119
Germany Albums Chart[25] 37
Norway Albums Chart[25] 5
Irish Albums Chart[25] 34
Italy Albums Chart[25] 27
Spain Albums Chart[25] 54
Sweden Albums Chart[25] 6
Switzerland Albums Chart[25] 80
UK Albums Chart[25] 40
US Billboard 200 Albums Chart[25] 23
US Billboard Holiday Albums Chart[25] 1
US Billboard Folk Albums Chart[26] 1
US Billboard Rock Albums Chart 9


  1. ^ "BBC review". Retrieved December 2, 2019.
  2. ^ "CAFAmerica to distribute royalities [sic] from Bob Dylan's Christmas album to Crisis". UK Fundraising. 2009-12-14. Retrieved 2009-12-19.
  3. ^ Bob Dylan brings Christmas cheer to those without homes, Reuters, November 26, 2009
  4. ^ 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]
  5. ^ "Premiere: Bob Dylan's Must Be Santa Video From Christmas LP | Music News". Rolling Stone. 2009-11-16. Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  6. ^ "eCard Music Video – Bob Dylan – Christmas in the Heart". Archived from the original on 2012-02-09. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
  7. ^ "Bob Dylan: Christmas in the Heart". AnyDecentMusic?. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  8. ^ "Christmas in the Heart Reviews". Retrieved May 31, 2016.
  9. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Christmas in the Heart at AllMusic
  10. ^ Matos, Michaelangelo (2012-02-10). "A.V. Club review". Retrieved 2012-02-14.
  11. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Artist 169". Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  12. ^ Richard Williams (2009-12-10). "The Guardian review". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Rolling Stone review". Retrieved 2012-02-14.
  17. ^ "Slant Magazine review". Retrieved 2012-02-14.
  18. ^ a b
  19. ^ "Bob Dylan - Christmas In The Heart". Metacritic. Retrieved 2009-12-06.
  20. ^ "Isn't it ironic? Dylan surprises again with holiday CD - 2009-Dec-02 - CultureMap Houston". Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  21. ^ "Music". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2013-07-25.
  22. ^ "Politics, Film, Music and Culture – A soundtrack for the holidays – Bob Dylan does Christmas". Se7en Magazine. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
  23. ^ "Dylan to release Christmas album". BBC News. 2009-08-27. Retrieved 2010-06-29.
  24. ^ "Dylan royalties for Crisis charity". Daily Mirror. 2009-09-24. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Christmas in the Heart". aCharts. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  26. ^ Trust, Gary. Chart Beat Thursday: John Mayer, Folk Albums, David Guetta . Billboard. November 26, 2009. Retrieved December 6, 2009.

External links[edit]