For decades people have fought to claim Bob Dylan’s legacy as their own. Jews, Christians and old african-american Blues Men. Actually only in Dylan’s own mind have the latter actually joined the fray, but his contribution to American culture has been so incisive that many people have identified and so varied that it has been difficult to pin down.
So his latest YouTube addition comes as both a surprise and no surprise. How long, in fact, before he fully embraced the vacuity of contemporary consumer culture in a possibly non-ironic way? “Must be Santa” joins Dylan and that other great appropriation of American consumer culture — Santa Claus.
Coca Cola dressed up the Christian St. Nicholas in their colors and used him to sell stuff. St Nicholas himself was an accretion of traditional green man legends from Central Europe. So, buy your soda because we’ve tamed nature. And now, buy Santa because we’ve tamed the arch-outsider critic, Dylan. Or perhaps the over-determination of the “must” is intended to tip us off that neither Dylan nor Santa are quite who we think they are.
Something to ponder over the eight nights of Hanukkah.
Hat tips galore. Benjamin Ivry, Jeremiah Lockwood most insistently!