We're now down in Devon, in John & Jeanette's lovely little house in Northam, near Bideford. We drove down in the late afternoon and evening yesterday generally to the accompaniment of Radio 2, taking in an entire live concert by Robbie Williams. Not exactly my cup of tea, but it served to pass the time on a rather boring drive. I'm sure we passed through some scenic countryside, but that's meaningless in the dark.
However, we did start the journey to the strains of Dylan's Christmas album, Christmas in the Heart, which I bought from the HMV in York along with the first eponymous album from The Imagined Village. The Dylan album was released when we were last in the UK in December (of 2009, I think) but I'd hesitated to buy it then since the critics seemed to deem it a bit of an incongruous novelty, and I'm not really that keen on Christmas songs these days, overplayed as they are at this time of year and, sadly, incongruously, even earlier. Funnily enough I remember a short interview featuring the Bobster being published in The Big Issue when the Christmas album was released in which the great man sounded very convincing as to the real value of the project. Anyway, it turns out that Dylan was right and the critics wrong, as is ever the case, of course - well, to these ears, that is.
All I can say is that I totally, entirely, wholly loved every moment of Christmas in the Heart, which is titled with unerring accuracy. It's a gloriously warm, funny, charming evocation of the sound of Christmas as would have been experienced by the young Robert Zimmerman, a mythological Christmas that I'm aware of from songs from my own childhood and films and tv programmes from the States. Dylan's gloriously raddled voice and the rock solid band he selected, with their perfect arrangements of the old songs, add the necessary edge that somehow adds to the sweetness of the songs. (Pedal steel from Donnie Heron to die for, as on the later albums of standards.)
For the first time in years I felt in my old heart the Christmas Past that I thought I'd lost.