Old? Than the hills. Cagey? Could give Dick Cheney a run. Torn and frayed? Like a beaten up circus dog. Moves left? Bill Belichick couldn’t come up with a defense. Our collective (and still surviving) cultural bellwether Bobby D, Mr. Tambourine Man, Huckleberry Zimmerman has hooked left, faded right, gone up the middle, scrambled around, thrown to the sidelines, flee-flickered, even tossed a few away while always mutating and forever changing from poet provocateur to white-faced song and dance man, from fresh-faced cowpoke to the ghost of Hank Snow, from lingerie salesman to wheezy-voiced carnival barker, with enough sideways traipsing and off-route detouring to last a bunch of careers. And now, Bob Dylan’s got a Christmas album.
Makes perfect sense, really. Yet another almost straight-faced exploration of pop songwriting roots with the attendant wrinkles emanating from that old weird America, yet another idiom accessed, yet another mixed-up, shook-up persona (Bing Crosby meets Doug Sahm over cocktails with Sammy Cahn).
Check out the video, though.
What’s it got? Plenty: A Rainer Fassbinder crossed with David Lean feel, cigar smoking, booze swilling, glass throwing, a guy with a leave on his head, lotsa hats, window smashing, chandelier swinging, innocuous dancing, Dylan dancing, an upstairs-downstairs dichotomy, the likenesses (don’t argue—I spotted ‘em) of Joe Besser, Joseph Cornell, Agnes Moorehead, Adlai Stevenson, Tom Waits, Ronnie Cox, Jimmie Dodd, Ronee Blakely and best of all, Dylan himself as Mickey Rourke.