The music that local radio stations like 101.7 are playing this year is annoying. They love to play the lamest Christmas music ever made Horrible 1990s singers that aren’t even on the level of Mariah Carey annihilate Christmas hits and make the station unlistenable. There is a certain type of drunken croon that Christmas songs require, but Manheim or Amy Grant don’t have it in their voices. Maybe I am alone, but I wish they played the old crooners instead of the lame baffooners.
The History Channel likes to ruin the spirit of this time of year when we learn how Santa Claus came to be and how the whole notion of a flying reindeer was actually a Macy’s ad campaign. Santa has come a long way from his small elf beginnings in a poem to his portly present size hanging out at Bentleyville.
Burl Ives and Rudolph created an image of what Christmas was for me as a kid, but that was different from what it turned out to be.
The Beach Boys made some great Christmas tunes, but most bands that have tried to make a themed album have failed. “Blue Christmas” and “Jingle Bell Rock” are a few exceptions that have staying power.
Duluth legend Bob Dylan released a Christmas album and did his own rendition of “Silent Night” a few years ago. “Christmas in the Heart” was Dylan’s attempt to create something that has worked for some and has seen others fall flat on their face. In Dylan’s case he seemed to have fallen flat. Now that a year has passed, “Must Be Santa,” has made me reconsider my first review.
When you list bands that have become famous off of Dylan’s tunes it is who’s who of rock and roll. The Byrds (Tambourine Man), Jimi Hendrix (All Along The Watchtower), Guns N’ Roses (Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door), Peter, Paul, and Mary (Blowin’ in the Wind), and recently even Jack White’s The Dead Weather (New Pony) to name a few. Hendrix’s close friends thought he was strange as a blues based performer playing folky Dylan tunes, but they were proven wrong when he became famous. Even his trademark breakthrough hit, “Hey Joe” is believed to have been written by a folkie from the same brood. While Dylan is thought of as more “folk” based, it is difficult to not recognize his blues roots as well. Even John Lennon, who was heavily influenced by Dylan in the Rubber Soul years, did a Christmas song of his own, but it was more about wishing war would end than Santa Claus visiting.
“Little Drummer Boy” was one song that bugged me on the Dylan’s Christmas album. Where is the genius in hearing Dylan say, “Pa rum pum pum pum” over and over again? Where is the social conscience in singing about playing his drum the best? Then the background singers come in on the song, creating the most forgettable music you might ever hear.