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Credit: Xavier Badosa


The magical moment Bob Dylan read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas'


‘Twas the night before Christmas and Santa was on the job, not a creature was stirring except for Saint Bob.

Christmas Day has arrived, and as you’ve finished opening the presents, eating yourself into oblivion, and making small talk with the extended family, you’ve turned to your phone for a stint of mindless scrolling which, against all odds, has resulted in some classic festive material delivered to you courtesy of the great Bob Dylan himself.

In 2006, as part of a collaboration with XM Satellite Radio, Dylan launched his Theme Time Radio Hour which consisted of 50 themed shows which ran for three years between 2006 and 2009. With one episode a week, Dylan tackled everything from drinking, summer, dogs, the bible, guns, Halloween and more.

On December 20th, 2006, Dylan released episode 34 of his radio show which happened to be a two-hour Christmas and New Year special. “Well it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” Dylan said while introducing his show. “And for the next couple of hours, it’s going to sound like Christmas too. This is the special yuletide extravaganza edition of TTRH, chock full of Christmas themes, holiday dreams, and jingle bell schemes”.

After playing a series of festive tracks from the likes of Charles Brown, The Sonics, Nancy Wilson and more, Dylan stepped up to deliver a Christmas performance of his own with a rendition of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’.

“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, 
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.”

The poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas, was published anonymously in 1823 and later attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, who claimed authorship in 1837. The work, which has been credited as being largely responsible for some of the earliest conceptions of Santa Claus, has been called “arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American.”

Dylan, a man with his own writing accolades etched into the history of literature, put his own unique spin on the poem as part of his reading and did so in the typical flair we’ve come to expect.

Enjoy the reading, below.

A Visit from St. Nicholas,
By Clement Clarke Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,

With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”