Back in the summer of 69 - two weeks after I met my lovely bride Lulu - I invited her to come along to Woodstock to see a rock festival. Of course - her mother thought I was nuts and refused to let Lulu go.
My music collection consisted of every album that the Rolling Stones - Beach Boys - Beatles - and Bob Dylan had recorded up to that time. Since the festival was supposed to be held near Woodstock NY - I was positive that Bob would be playing and that alone was worth the trip. The Band had just released an album called, "Music From Big Pink," with the picture of a shabby cottage on the cover - supposedly near Woodstock - this was before Woodstock was - well - WOODSTOCK.
At the time Bob Dylan was a "protest singer/folk singer/rock star." He had written some of the most fantastic lyrics that powered our generation. His singing voice was about as different and recognizable as one could be - but we could forgive that because of his imaginative words and phrasing. Every time he is interviewed today someone always asks where those poetic rhymes came from. His pat answer is "I have no idea."
Since my retirement it seems one of my most used phrases is "fast forward 4o years" so I won't say it.
Last week Dylan released a new CD - of all things - a Christmas album. Bob has always enjoyed playing jokes on his fans and followers - surely this would have to be another one. First off - Bob Dylan was born Robert Zimmerman - one of those lone Jewish kids in a small mining town in Minnesota. Second - many of his protest songs questioned the goodness of man and the benefits of religion.
I checked online - and Best Buy had the album for $9.99. I went to the store and it was marked $13.99 at the shelf. When I took it to the counter - I remind the clerk that I saw it online for $9.99. He asked me, "What store?" I said, "Best Buy!" Would you believe they have a database in their store of all the current prices of items at Sears - Penney - etc.? Anyway - he verified the $9.99 price and in second I was leaving the store with a smile and an afternoon of good listening.
Today when you buy a CD - the first thing you do is put it in your computer and have the songs copied to your hard drive. In my case - my MacBook runs iTunes that immediately files the songs in my database. After that I could use the CD as a coaster - because my computer automatically transfers a copy to my iPhone that plays it wirelessly through my car radio. Like a bacteria multiplying - copies of Bob's Christmas album were on the move. Some people even have the nerve to give friends copies.
Back to the music. Some might say that Bob Dylan sold out to produce a "Christmas Album." On the outside CD cover there is a tradition picture of a couple driving a horse drawn sled. Inside - there is a provocative picture of a sexy lady scantily clothed in a Santa outfit - complete with very high-heeled red boots.
The CD is called "Christmas in the Heart" by Bob Dylan. The label with Columbia Christmas Recording emblazoned across the bright red front reminds me of back when I would sit there for hours and stare at a similar label as it slowly spun around my turntable at 33 and 1/3 RPMs. My hearing was bad even then - and I struggled to memorize every word.
If you love Bob Dylan - you will like the songs. They are not flavored any way special except for Bob's haunting voice. As I read the titles I can envision a sleazy television commercial splashing the titles across the screen as Bob croons in the background.
There are 15 songs - starting with "Here Comes Santa Claus" - through "Little Drummer Boy" - to "the First Noel." There is even a little classically sounding Hawaiian number called, "Christmas on Christmas Island." Bob does a great job on, "The Christmas Blues," but he stays away from Bing Crosby's, "White Christmas." One song that makes me think of back home in Pennsylvania, "Must Be Santa," a rousing polka.
Yes - I am playing Christmas music before Halloween - that has even become an American tradition - trying to stretch the "xmas" shopping season to 6 months.
My review of the music - I like it - the price was right - and I got a few real chuckles of my leather voiced Jewish hero singing about a gentile holiday.
When I went to Woodstock - I wanted to hear some "Music From Big Pink." I didn't hear it then - but now 40 years later - I am listening to "Music From Big Red." I am not sure if Dylan is spoofing us - but I do not care. The music makes me chuckle and think of my youth. Isn't that what Christmas is all about?