It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, thanks to Bill Murray. The longtime comedian’s new Netflix holiday special, A Very Murray Christmas, hit the streaming service today, and along with it came the release of the cover of a little-known Beach Boys tune by the band Phoenix, Alone on Christmas Day.
The song, which is part of the movie’s soundtrack, features Murray, along with Jason Schwartzman, David Johansen of New York Dolls, and Paul Shaffer, the former Late Show music director. For most, the tune won’t be familiar. In fact, Murray kicks off the track by saying to the others, “How about you fellas play something that nobody knows?” Of course, Alone on Christmas Day is what follows.
The reason for the holiday song’s relative obscurity is that it was written back in 1979 and never formally released. According to Rolling Stone, the idea was that it would be a part of a Christmas LP, but the project never came to fruition. The song got new life, however, when Phoenix asked Beach Boys co-founder Mike Love for permission to cover it for the special.
Love did them one better: He revised the track, changed up the lyrics, and got producer Michael Lloyd on board for a new arrangement. Pianist Ron Altback also collaborated with Love on his fresh take, and the final product was released in November.
Following in the wake of this release, and coinciding with the release of A Very Murray Christmas, is Murray and Phoenix’s version. Listeners get a taste of Murray’s very, shall we say, enthusiastic vocals. If it sounds like he’s trying a little too hard, that’s likely intentional. He manages to not overdo it completely, though, with the result that his contribution is entertaining without detracting from the music.
The cover is now available for digital download, with all profits going to UNICEF.