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What Christmas song should Bob Dylan sing? One expert's opinion

August 27, 2009 |  1:01 pm

DYLAN_AP The official announcement of Bob Dylan's Christmas album, "Christmas in the Heart," included a list of some of the songs the bard will tackle. So far, we know only a handful of the tracks on the charity-benefiting album, but they're all pretty standard, predictable fare.

That doesn't, of course, mean Dylan's interpretation will be; simply an acknowledgment that the initial crop of tunes don't dig too deep in the Christmas canon.

As of now, we have "Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Winter Wonderland,” “Little Drummer Boy” and “Must Be Santa.” That's all well and good, but how about a few that aren't already residing in most families' Christmas play lists?

Former Times critic Robert Hilburn already Tweeted a request, noting that he's rooting for "Blue Christmas." Nice, but a definitive version of that choice already exists from Elvis.

So what song can Dylan make his own? It's a question best answered by the King -- the King of Jingaling, that is.

By day, the King of Jingaling is Brad Ross-MacLeod, a former college professor-turned-middle school teacher in Kenosha, Wis. He also maintains one of the deepest, and easiest-to-navigate, Christmas song websites around at falalalala.com, a fascinating trip into the music of Christmases past. Each year, Ross-MacLeod releases a digital Advent calendar of sorts, a compilation of rare Christmas songs. Download past collections here.

He's also nice, and will help you track down that Christmas song from your youth that you must have again every December, as he did for me when I was on the prowl for Glen Campbell's "Little Toy Trains." The King of Jingaling, surely, would know the right Christmas song for Dylan to tackle.

He didn't disappoint. The initial songs on Dylan's album show he's staying away from any topics of his religion, but perhaps there's something with some slight political or cultural implications that would fit in nicely with his career?

"He's covering some great chestnuts primarily from the secular Christmas canon. I know lots of people who'd love to see him tackle some traditional carols. Personally, I think his style would be perfect for one of the Alfred Burt carols," said the King of Jingaling.

There's not too much information to be found on Burt, who penned a number of Christmas songs in the '40s and '50s. He wrote "Caroling, Caroling," which was popularized by Nat King Cole. The King of Jingaling has "Some Children See Him" on his Dylan wish list, a song he notes is "one of the first multi-cultural" carols. 

A YouTube embed of the song is above, which James Taylor recorded in 2004. It perhaps has more Christian references than Dylan will want to tackle, but frames those beliefs -- and what shapes they may take -- with more ambiguity than most well-known Christmas songs.

-- Todd Martens

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