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Intersection of Life and Faith

Dylan for Christmas, but Critics Concerned

  • Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2009 1 Sep
Dylan for Christmas, but Critics Concerned

It's official that Bob Dylan is indeed releasing a Christmas record this holiday season, but critics are concerned about what it might sound like. The track listing is split between traditional carols and more modern sounds of the season, but a handful of curious covers already have message boards like Arts & Faith buzzing—and not necessarily in a good way.

The stir is mostly over tracks like "Must Be Santa" (Hal Moore and Bill Fredricks), "Here Comes Santa Claus" (Gene Autry and Oakley Haldeman) and "I'll Be Home for Christmas" (Buck Ram, Kim Gannon and Walter Kent), familiar favorites but seem more like something Andy Williams would tackle than a 1960s protest poet like Dylan. Speaking of Williams, a recent Paste blog suggests that very crooner was an inspiration for the album, fueling rumors of Dylan the singer/songwriter.

MSNBC's Kent Jones takes the sarcasm through the roof with this commentary.

Meanwhile, The Edmonton Sun snarkily notes that the news "is not a joke," and that the songs on the album will be "undoubtedly rendered with the angelic vocals and precise enunciation that are Dylan's calling card. That last part is a joke." The San Jose Mercury News chimed in with this headline: "Bob Dylan to butcher your favorite holiday songs." The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jay Bookman writes: "The world is ending well before December, 2012. It now officially ends on Oct. 13, 2009, the date when Bob Dylan releases his album of Christmas classics."

But Hecklerspray.com wins the prize for snarkiest remarks of all: "It promises to tap into the very spirit of Christmas itself—specifically the spirit of answering your door to what you believe are carol singers on Christmas Eve, only to discover that you're actually being serenaded by a tatty-looking homeless man with a mouse in his pocket, a bottle of cheap gin in his hand and more vomit than one human could ever produce on his own down his trousers." Ouch.

All jabs aside, sales of the October 13 release will benefit Feeding America in hopes of what Dylan says in a statement will bring "food security to people in need."

Skillet's one-two punch

Skillet kicked off the week on Sunday with a soundtrack slot on the NBC special "25th Anniversary of WrestleMania." The World Wresting Entertainment program featured the group's current mainstream single "Monster," No. 26 on Billboard's Active Rock chart at press time. But that wasn't the only recent knockout for the band; last Tuesday's release of Awake took the top spot of the iTunes deluxe edition chart and landed at No. 4 on the digital download website's overall sales chart.

ASU returns

Ian Eskelin's name shows up a ton these days in production and songwriting credits (Stellar Kart, Francesca Battistelli, Krystal Meyers), but his primary home is still leader of All Star United. The group just self-released its sixth studio CD The Good Album to somewhat under the radar status. "We keep making All Star records because it keeps us sane," Eskelin writes on the band's MySpace page. "Writing and producing for other artists is a very different thing from saying what you personally really want to say in the way you really want to say it. Making an ASU record means we don't have to hold anything back. That means a lot of guitars and a lot of satire, and a whole lot of fun."

Red rumblings

Alternative rockers Red had their 2006 single "Pieces" end up in the trailer for The Blind Side (starring Sandra Bullock, Kathy Bates and Tim McGraw). The band's guitarist and primary songwriter Jasen Rauch also inked a co-writing credit on the new Breaking Benjamin song "I Will Not Bow," which can be heard in the trailer for Bruce Willis' new action movie Surrogates.

Creation tour line-up cemented

The summer festival season may be officially over, but the spirit lives on as

Creation Festival: The Tour kicks off September 14 in Nashville. The lineup for the marathon concert was just cemented to include headliners Jars of Clay, Thousand Foot Krutch and Audio Unplugged (featuring Mark Stuart and Will McGinniss from Audio Adrenaline). Newcomers include soul/hip-hop newcomer B. Reith, alternative rockers This Beautiful Republic, pop/rock band FM Static and Pastor Harry Thomas as speaker.

Rap in the name of love

Burgeoning rapper Jaeson Ma previously worked for MC Hammer, but has since moved on to a life of ministry and personal music making. He just debuted a new single called "Love" on both iTunes and YouTube as a testimony to his entire time in the music industry thus far, coupled with a confirmation of God's unconditional love for everyone.

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