Bob Dylan brings Christmas cheer to those without homes
By Angus MacSwan
LONDON (Reuters) - Singer Bob Dylan reminisces about Christmas past, turkey dinners and his favorite holiday songs in a rare interview in a magazine for homeless people.
The 68-year-old singer has baffled fans and critics with his new album "Christmas in the Heart" -- a collection of carols and traditional yuletide songs delivered in his croaking voice.
All proceeds will go to charities for the homeless and hungry in the United States, Britain and 80 poor countries.
Asked why he picked those organizations, Dylan told the interviewer: "They get food straight to the people. No military organization, no bureaucracy, no governments to deal with."
The exclusive interview appeared in The Big Issue magazine in Britain and similar street papers in North America.
Dylan -- born Robert Allen Zimmerman -- said that although Jewish, he never felt left out of Christmas as a boy growing up in Minnesota.
He recalled "plenty of snow, jingle bells, Christmas carolers going from house to house, sleighs in the streets, town bells ringing, nativity plays."
His idea of a good Christmas dinner was roast turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy, collard greens and all the trimmings.
The songs on the Christmas album were "part of my life, just like folk songs," he said.
Why does Christmas have the best songs? "Maybe because it's so worldwide and everybody can relate to it in their own way."
The release of the Christmas album has only added to the enigma of Dylan and caps an eventful year for him.
He played more than 100 shows in Europe and North America as part of his "Never Ending Tour" and topped the charts in Britain and the United States with his album "Together Through Life."
He was also detained by police in New Jersey in July when homeowners spotted a hooded man wandering around their street in the rain. The young police officer failed to recognize the Oscar and Grammy-winning songwriter.
The Christmas album has also renewed speculation among Bob-watchers about his current faith, if any. He was a Born Again Christian from 1979-81 and released three religious-themed albums.
He cryptically told the interviewer: "I am a true believer" but did not elaborate further.