Bob Dylan's 47th album is going to be a special one in more ways than one. Christmas In The Heart will be released October 13 in the U.S. and artist royalties are being donated to charity. A full tracklisting for the album has yet to be released, but songs confirmed for the set include "Here Comes Santa Claus," "Winter Wonderland," "Little Drummer Boy," and "Must Be Santa."
While a few historians and Dylanphiles might find flaw with the idea of Dylan doing Christmas, it seems to fit perfectly with what he's been doing since the release of Time Out of Mind in 1997. Dylan's last several records – Time Out of Mind, "Love & Theft," Modern Times, and Together Through Life have largely been archaic and out of date in sound. Most of the great Christmas songs – sacred and secular – have been around for a long time and recorded hundreds and thousands of times. Plenty of modern artists have tried their hands at these classics and the results have been terrible. I can't think of any artist who understands music history better than Dylan. If anyone is going to take these songs we all know and get to the heart of them, it's him. Take a look at the cover art! You can just see that he gets it, and that means I'm going to, as well. While some might shudder at the thought of ol' Bob croaking out "Winter Wonderland," I can't wait to hear it.
I only have two Christmas albums in my collection. I have Phil Keaggy's Majesty & Wonder, which is a beautiful instrumental Christmas record. I also have Sarah McLachlan's Wintersong, which has the very best version of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" imaginable. I'm totally adding this one from Dylan. I also think I'm going to have to add the one Tony Bennett recorded last year and B.B. King's Christmas disc.
Not only does Dylan have the knowledge to get to the heart of the songs, he's showing he's got heart and compassion by donating all of his future U.S. royalties from Christmas to Feeding America in perpetuity.
“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," Dylan said. "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.”