Among all the animals which are figments of imagination, be it as fantastic as a unicorn or something more equipped with magical powers like Hedwig or Aslan, Rudolph is undoubtedly the showstopper. Since this time every year, Rudolph enjoys maximum fandom, we might as well look into his popularity. It seems like he is not only Santa’s favourite reindeer but also ours. He has, of course, been a celebrated icon in pop culture since time immemorial.
Apart from the number one Christmas song ‘Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer,’ Chuck Berry’s ‘Run Rudolph Run’ also known as ‘Run Run Rudolph’ is a song celebrating Rudolph’s vitality. Written by Johnny Marks and Marvin Brody, the song was first released in 1958 as a single and marked itself out as an unstoppable festive hit. The ‘Father of Rock and Roll’ made sure to deliver this number in his own significant style. The twelve-bar blues song has musical similarities with Berry’s other 1958 song ‘Johnny b. Goode.’
The lyrics focus on how Rudolph is solely responsible for Santa’s Christmas duty. It gives him the agency where he and not his master ensures a smooth and safe journey around the world to distribute tokens of happiness. The gifts given by Santa in the song are some of the popular toys of the 1950s such as “the rock and roll electric guitar” and “A little baby doll that can cry, sleep, drink and wet” referring to Tiny Tears American dolls.
Needless to say, countless artist including the Foo Fighters, Billy Ray Cyrus, Keith Richards, The Grateful Dead, Whitney Wolanin and so on, each grabbed their opportunities to cover the song. The English heavy metal musician Lemmy Kilmister’s version, however, was always going to be the most interesting one among the names above.
Being a dedicated fan of Chuck Berry, Lemmy decided to make ‘Run Run Rudolph’ the opening song for his album We Wish You a Metal Christmas and a Headbanging New Year. Though the music arrangement remained unadulterated, Lemmy’s version backed by Dave Grohl and Bolly Gibbons is more forceful. Lemmy’s gravelly voice automatically added a certain tone of aggression to the holiday song. It sounded like a subdued roar or a growl making the song slightly edgy. Considering the title of the album, perhaps it was how Lemmy wished to deliver it.
Stream the song, below.