Country artist J.D. Shelburne lets loose and has some much-needed fun in a lively new cover of “Run Run Rudolph.”
“A lot of classic Christmas songs are slow, but the way 2020 has been, I wanted to put something out upbeat,” Shelburne says of his cover of the classic Christmas jingle. “I am pretty sure that the Chuck Berry version of the song is on just about every holiday compilation CD known to man. It’s just one of those songs that is always full of so much life.”
That’s true of his version, too. As Shelburne went into the studio right before Thanksgiving, the Kentucky native — who released originals “Church Pew Bar Stool” and “Bottoms Up Sundown” earlier this year — knew he wanted to bring new energy and electricity to the Christmas classic.
“I wanted to create something a bit more modern and mainstream,” he explains, “and the band I had with me in the studio did exactly that. They just nailed it.”
Shelburne admits it took him a little bit longer to nail his vocal part. ”I needed to get the right energy, so my producer [Mike Procter] told me, ‘Act like you are Elvis Presley,'” he recalls.
“He told me to just have fun and pretend I was singing in front of a bunch of people screaming for me,” Shelburne adds with a laugh. “I had never sung a song like that before, but it just worked. It was probably one of the most fun times I have had playing in the studio.”
Shelburne also has a number of personal connections to “Run Run Rudolph.” Not only has he loved the Christmas holiday and the music that goes with it his whole life (“We put our tree up Halloween night,” he insists), but he also has fond memories of hearing the song in one of his favorite holiday movies.
“As a kid, I used to watch Home Alone all the time and I loved to always hear ‘Run Run Rudolph,'” he recalls. “I also loved Luke Bryan‘s version of it during a CMA Country Christmas performance a few years back.”
It’s likely to be a staple in the Shelburne household a lot this year, as the singer and his wife Amy Jo are currently basking in the bliss of new parenthood with their almost 3-month-old son, Jax.
“He’s here and growing like a weed,” Shelburne says of his little boy. “We took him outside in the snow for the first time a few days ago. Having him here is such a breath of fresh air because Amy and I tried for so long to have kids and now we finally get to experience all of these things with our own son. He’s been one of God’s greatest blessings to us.”
Like all of us, Shelburne is anxiously looking forward to 2021 and everything the new year might bring.
“I lost over 80 shows this year [due to the pandemic], and touring is where I make my income,” concludes Shelburne, who is set to release his new album Straight From Kentucky in 2021. “But despite this, we were able to build a lot of momentum with the fans this year. I can’t wait to get back there on the stage.”