Charles Esten, known to country fans as Deacon Claybourne in Nashville, is taking on another role in his new holiday single, “On the Road to Bethelem.” Co-written with Nashville co-star Mark Collie, the song features Esten on guitar, harmonica, and vocals, as he as shares the Christmas story through Joseph’s eyes.
“I had in mind to write a new Christmas song, and was trying to do so from a perspective I hadn’t heard very often,” Esten says. “It occurred to me that, although I’m sure some exist, I couldn’t think of any songs from Joseph’s point-of-view, and that it would have been a fairly complicated and interesting one, at that. Out on that road, he would have been feeling powerful emotions while ruminating on some unbelievably weighty new information. I wanted to touch on that in a way that also had a simplicity to it.”
Esten adds, “Joseph would seem to me to have been a very common man, in extraordinarily uncommon circumstances: forced onto the road by the government, wondering and worrying about the safety and future of his new family. Immediately, I began to think of him as a Springsteenian character, singing his story with nothing but a guitar and a harmonica.
“I called my friend Mark, and shared that idea, and the very next morning we got together and wrote it. I’m proud of what we came up with and hope it resonates with people who have heard the story so many times, but just might be moved to hear it in a new way.”