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Even though Christmas is over, you can still treat yourself to Bob Dylan’s “Christmas in the Heart.” I was so inspired I trotted off to Namdaemun and bought a tree. The songs on Bob’s 34th studio album whisk listeners back to a Yuletide that vanished after Christmas got hijacked by the banality of television and turned into a corporate venture. Bob is Santa and he brings us log fires, mistletoe, snowy forests, late night parties, old friends and a sense of wonder.

Even fervent atheists might find themselves turning misty-eyed at Bob’s croaky “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” The exuberant polka “Must Be Santa” is as much fun you can have at Christmas clothed and sober. Dylan covering tracks more associated with the likes of Bing Crosby surprised the singer’s legions of fans, myself included. Is the album an ironic joke? What’s the catch? I mean, Bob starts crooning softly in Latin at one point.

But these recordings are straight up: “Here we are as in olden days/ Happy golden days of yore/Faithful friends who are dear to us/ Gather near to us once more.” The songs are from the heart and breathe fresh life into the rich tradition of Christmas holiday songs. By Michael Gibb

Bob Dylan

“Christmas in the Heart”

Label: Columbia

Genre: Holiday
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