Christmas is All About Family for Rascal Flatts’ Joe Don Rooney

"It’s really neat to be able to see Christmas through their eyes," Rooney says of he and Tiffany Fallon's three children. "It’s the best gift we have is to see how excited and happy they are.”

Written by Chuck Dauphin
Christmas is All About Family for Rascal Flatts’ Joe Don Rooney
Joe Don Rooney and family; Photo via Instagram

One of the highlights for Country fans this holiday season has been the new Christmas disc from Rascal Flatts, The Greatest Gift Of All. The band produced the disc, along with the help of their former keyboard player, Tim Akers, who offered up some unique arrangements on classics such as “Joy To The World” and “Deck The Halls.”

“For the most part, we followed the arrangements that Tim came up with – pretty much to a tee. He was there for the sessions, and we made some minor notes on some of the songs, but more or less, it was pretty much the way that he visualized them to be from day one. ‘O Holy Night’ is pretty incredible,” the band’s Joe Don Rooney tells Sounds Like Nashville. “We wanted to be a little different with that one. It’s always one of those that is very demanding for a singer to sing. It’s got a wide arc from the low end melody to the high end. It was one that Gary really shined on. I had to sing above him, which hurt. ‘The First Noel’ was a lot of fun too. It was a different take on a classic. We tried to get in there and have as few instruments as possible. We didn’t want to clutter it up too much. We tried to strip things back, and let the orchestral and choir arrangements come in and support the foundation that we laid down for the record,” he said of the band’s approach to recording the classics.

In addition to having the group’s name on the album as producer, member Jay DeMarcus is also listed separately for his work behind the glass. Rooney says that he marvels at his knack for production. “He’s someone that we can really lean on. Some of my favorite moments are just sitting at his house behind the console working on guitar parts. He is such an 80s child when it comes to Toto-style guitar solos. He and I just eat it up. He’ll sing a line, and I’ll start playing. He gives me so much confidence going into any project. He makes us all better.”

How has Christmas evolved for Rooney since becoming a husband and father? He tells Sounds Like Nashville it’s changed in a lot of ways. “When I was growing up, there was a wish list a mile long, and you couldn’t wait to get something for Christmas. Now, as an adult, a husband, and a father, I really don’t want anything for Christmas. I just want everyone to be healthy and happy. It’s fun to just be able to get the kids some gifts, and ring in the New Year together. I told Tiff the other day that I didn’t want anything or need anything in my stocking. I just want the kids to be happy. We’ve been absolutely blessed beyond belief, and our kids are growing up in a world that I didn’t know when I was their age growing up in a small town in Oklahoma. To be able to provide them some of the things that I’ve never had before is a blessing. You’ve also got to be careful, and make sure they understand the meaning of Christmas. We definitely will sing a lot of Christmas carols together, and we’ll talk about Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who was born on that day. It’s really neat to be able to see Christmas through their eyes. It’s the best gift we have is to see how excited and happy they are.”

And, he stands amazed at how, as far as Christmas toys go, some old things have a way of becoming new again – like Classic Nintendo! “Isn’t that amazing? My son is hooked on YouTube, and learns so much from it. He loves Legos, and building things with Minecraft, and all these games. One day, he asks me if I had ever heard of Nintendo. I told him ‘Yeah, I grew up playing it.’ Now, they have this new version where all the games are inside of the box. It’s incredible. It’s on his wish list. We’ll see. That might be the only thing that is on my wish list. I might ask for that one.”