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Listen to Bob Dylan Read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”

A favorite voice interprets a classic

(Blue Lantern Studio/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

There’s no better time than now to revisit the seasonal classic, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” 

The poem touches on many Christmas traditions and lore, from the stockings “hung by the chimney with care,” to the sweets enjoyed by all. The classic first appeared in a newspaper in Troy, New York, on December 23, 1823 but no one claimed authorship until 13 years later. Clement Clarke Moore, a professor and poet, said that he wrote the piece for his children and didn’t realize that his housekeeper had sent it into the newspaper to be published. However the family of Henry Livingston, Jr. contended that their father had been reciting “A Visit from St. Nicholas” for 15 years prior to the poem's publication, writes Stacy Conradt for mental_floss. Regardless of the true authorship, the poem is now an American classic.

So it is fitting for the poem to be read by a truly American voice: Bob Dylan. Maria Popova, at her Brain Pickings website, calls Dylan’s reading of the poem a “deliciously Dylanesque performance.” The singer-songwriter hosted a satellite radio show, Theme Time Radio Hour, once a week for almost three years. For his 2006 Christmas broadcast, the show featured a wide variety of Christmas music with Dylan’s commentary.

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