Dylan's Christmas Album, And '50 Great Voices'

A sampling of Bob Dylan's first ever Christmas album, plus an appeal for listeners' nominations for NPR's new series "50 Great Voices."

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

We're nowhere near Christmas or Thanksgiving, or even quite to Halloween, but it's never too early for Christmas songs, especially when they're sung like this:

(Soundbite of song, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing")

Mr. BOB DYLAN (Singer): (Singing) Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn king…

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

That is, indeed, Bob Dylan singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." It's part of a Christmas album out this week. "Christmas in the Heart" features all your favorites, performed as only Dylan can.

(Soundbite of song, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing")

Mr. DYLAN: (Singing) …joyful, all ye nations rise…

INSKEEP: Dylan is known for an encyclopedic knowledge of American music. In this album, though, he mainly plays the hits.

MONTAGNE: The album includes "Oh Come All Ye Faithful," "The First Noel" and, of course, the song without which no Christmas collection would be complete.

(Soundbite of song, "O Little Town of Bethlehem")

Mr. DYLAN: (Singing) O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie.

INSKEEP: That's from the latest album by Bob Dylan, one of the most influential voices in all of music.

(Soundbite of song, "O Little Town of Bethlehem")

Mr. DYLAN: (Singing) Amen.

MONTAGNE: Dylan's voice is a reminder that it's not always obvious what makes a great voice. It's not just the tone, it's the expression, which is one of the things that made Dylan famous.

INSKEEP: We've been thinking at NPR News about what makes a great voice, and we'd like your help. In January, we launch 50 Great Voices. It's a series dedicated to discovering and rediscovering singers from around the world.

(Soundbite of song, "The Lady is a Tramp")

Ms. ELLA FITZGERALD (Singer): (Singing) I don't like crap games with barons and earls. Won't go to Harlem in ermine and pearls.

MONTAGNE: We want your advice as we choose the 50 voices we'll hear in the series.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. NUSRAT FATEH ALI KHAN (Singer): (Singing in foreign language)

INSKEEP: That's Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the Pakistani singer who died in 1997.

MONTAGNE: Find out what we mean by great at our Web site. And if you think a singer - any singer, dead or alive - meets the criteria, send us the name at npr.org.

(Soundbite of song, "O Sole Mio")

Unidentified Man: (Singing)

INSKEEP: Submit up to five of your favorites along with a sentence or two explaining your choices, if you don't mind. The deadline is Friday.

(Soundbite of song, "I'm So Tired of Being Alone")

Mr. AL GREEN (Singer): (Singing) I'm so tired of being alone. I'm so tired of on my own. Won't you help me, girl, just as soon as you can? People say that I've found a way to make you say that you love me. Hey, baby, you didn't go for that.

INSKEEP: Giving voice to the world, it's NPR News.

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