Just two days after presenting the Single of the Year trophy to Miranda Lambert at the 2014 Country Music Awards, Steven Tyler made another high-profile TV appearance at the CMA Country Christmas show, which was taped in November and aired last night. Teaming up with Brad Paisley, the Aerosmith frontman — and lifelong country fan — melted hearts, faces and proverbial snow at the annual holiday concert with a yowling, guitar-fueled version of Chuck Berry’s “Run Run Rudolph.” Watch the live performance above.
“Country has been following me around my whole life,” he told Rolling Stone Country before the CMAs. “The first album ever that I had on a turntable was the Everly Brothers. It was 19-cough–cough-sixty-something. They were so good; they did it in such a way that it didn’t just sound country. It was the birthing of good, old-fashioned guitar on tracks, which turned into rock & roll. It was blues before that, which had a baby that we call rock & roll. And I think country is the new rock & roll.”
The CMA Country Christmas performance wasn’t Tyler’s first gig in front of a country audience. Three years ago, he teamed up with Carrie Underwood at the 2011 ACM Awards, where the two performed Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” and the country star’s “Undo It.” The pair worked together in 2012, as well, filming an episode of CMT Crossroads and recording the power ballad “Can’t Stop Loving You” for Aerosmith’s 15th album, Music From Another Dimension!
Chalk it up to the power of the Christmas spirit, perhaps, but Tyler and Paisley’s tag-team version of “Run Run Rudolph” arguably eclipsed those collaborations with Carrie Underwood (who also performed during the show, singing with Michael W. Smith on the worship song “All Is Well”). Tyler sang, swaggered and busted out the evening’s best harmonica solo, while Paisley filled in the gaps with bursts of Telecaster twang and mid-century rock & roll riffage.
More country performances could be in store for Tyler, who’s been spending a lot of time in Nashville.
“[Aerosmith] just got finished our six month tour, and I just took three weeks off in Maui,” he said at the CMAs last month. “When I was flying back, all my friends called me up and said, ‘Come here!’ I’ve got a lot of friends [in Nashville]. I’d love everyone to think I’m this tough ass from Aerosmith, but I grew up in the woods of New Hampshire with Joe Perry, so I have more country in me than people think.”