by Stein Arne Nistad
I must say I feel a little proud these days. I was the first (or possibly the second) journalist in the world who reviewed Christmas In The Heart. I wrote my preliminary review on September 17th. based on the samples housed on Amazon.uk for a short period. Unlike Michael Gray and the rest of the Dylan community, I was incredibly positive about the album. After playing the samples twenty or thirty times, I felt like I did understand the true nature of the Christmas In The Heart project. In my review I wrote: ‘
Despite the fact that some of the arrangements and songs definitively is not my ball game, I recognize an underlying quality in almost every one of them. It’s strange, but I feel Dylan’s genius comes true and I believe most of the songs on the record will grow on me. ( http://bit.ly/H9iPS)
Over the next few weeks I observed how the album was written off by critics and Dylan fans around the world – indeed, before it even was released! When the album finally was released, I had no need to change my review, but to reinforce the positive description. In my final review I wrote:
This album is not a new Dylan record. It is a very funny and entertaining Christmas album from Mr. Dylan. He has made a classical Christmas album – in some way or another. This is probably the most interesting Christmas record ever released and Dylan has put a lot of effort and energy in doing this right. I love “Christmas in the Heart” and I tend to define it as a holyday Dylan masterpiece. It‘s that good! ( http://bit.ly/8VaSON )
The reviews were more differentiated, but the album received a lot of negative reviews. Christmas In The Heart is obviously a album that you either love or hate. At that time I was thinking Christmas In The Heart might be the best Christmas album ever released. I honestly did not understand what was going on. Had I lost all my critical sense and was I completely mistaken about the project?
Fortunately, things have changed. From being described as a total failure, has Christmas In The Heart received more and more positive reviews! Finally, on Sunday, December 20, 2009 I was kind of Saved. The English writer Michael Gray, the author of Song & Dance Man, The Art Of Bob Dylan and The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia etc. wrote a very good review of the album on his web site:
Christmas In The Heart. OK. Here goes… I love it! And admire it. ( http://bit.ly/7scZy0 )
Mr. Grey was as I mentioned among the people who had written the album off completely based on the samples published by Amazon.uk. He might have (as many Dylan fans) been caught by the Kubler-Ross model:
When there is some sort of shock in one’s life, there is a theory that one goes through five stages of grief, also known as the Kubler-Ross model. These stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. (Dylan, ‘Christmas In The Heart,’ and the Kubler-Ross model (http://bit.ly/6qqyYZ ) )
Dylan is a genius, and he is always a step ahead of us. History tends to repeat itself. Dylan was written off so many times. In my blog post Last thought on Christmas In The Heart I wrote:
You either hate or love it. But “Christmas in the Heart” is about far more than emotions. The pieces fit perfectly in the puzzle. Dylan is completing his musical testament. (http://bit.ly/6T1cD8)
I look forward to Christmas Eve with Christmas In The Heart.
Merry Christmas to everybody!