Bob Dylan’s Weird Christmas Album: Nation 12/13

Fans have been puzzled and troubled by Bob Dylan’s new Christmas album. To help figure out what Dylan is doing, we turned to Sean Wilentz — he’s the official historian at the official website, and he also teaches American history at Princeton. He’s written many books, including “The Age of Reagan.”

Q. “Christmas in the Heart” opens with “Here Comes Santa Claus,” a Gene Autry song which, I have to say, is one of the most annoying holiday songs ever written, even before Bob Dylan sang it. “Hang your stockings, say your prayers” — is this a joke?

A. It’s not a joke at all. This is Bob Dylan looking back to his own childhood. He sings the songs that he heard as a kid in Hibbing. He’s recalling that time and those songs and that spirit.

The way Dylan sings “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” it sounds like a threat, a reason to lock your doors. . . .

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