“You’ve got to be pretty good to be a bad singer” — Bill Murray
The words above come not only from a seasoned actor, a wondrous meme lord and genuinely one of the most authentic men in Hollywood but also from a supreme lover of music, singer of songs and purveyors of vibes. Of course, those words could only come from everybody’s favourite uncle, Bill Murray. Below, we’ve picked out our eight favourite moments from Murray’s illustrious career where he let his heart do the talking and sang songs straight from the gut.
It’s easy to forget just how gifted Bill Murray is. The actor has become such a unique part of our cultural tapestry that it is easy to regard him simply as a singular entity; a thing to be enjoyed and not dissected or intellectualised. It’s a theory that Murray has largely got behind too. Often using his time in the spotlight to either cast aspersions on his own fame or lift up those more worthy for some time i the spotlight. Simply put, Murray has never taken himself too seriously.
It’s a trait that has allowed him to inhabit some of the greatest comedic characters of all time and become an icon in his own right. But it has also helped him to become a champion of the people, often showing up in random places like bachelor parties or engagement photoshoots, always arriving with a gentle smile, a willingness to party and a few shots along the way. It’s also what helps him to get up on stage and sing his heart out.
What may have started out as a stint for SNL as ‘Nick the Lounge Singer’ but Bill Murray soon became far more than that. In 2017, Murray even released New Worlds an album that saw him finally kick his image of being an off-key singer firmly to the curb through a serious rendition of some American standards. But, what’s the fun in all that perfection? We’d rather enjoy the messier moments from Mr Murray’s rich musical history.
Nobody has straddled the line of comedy and music better than Bill Murray and below we’ve got our favourite moments.
Bill Murray’s best musical moments:
‘Gloria’ – Them
A lot of singers forget to bring the party to proceedings but if you’re ever lucky enough to catch Murray at his swashbuckling best in front of the mic then you’ll be sure that comes in spades.
Having duetted ‘Gloria’ with none other than Eric Clapton in his time, Murray is more than capable of singing the song standing on his head and, if allowed to, we’d imagine he would.
It’s the kind of performance that has seen Murray be anointed the “Patron Saint of Karaoke” and one that we will happily watch again and again.
‘Shelter from the Storm’ – Bob Dylan
It’s hard to quantify the impact Dylan had on Murray; the actor has often reflected on the great music that inspired him as an actor. However, as a clip from Murray’s 2014 film, St. Vincent will show, he clearly connects with the folk singer’s lyrics—at least on his song ‘Shelter From The Storm’.
The film puts Murray in the starring role as a cantankerous war veteran, Vincent, who makes friends with a child whose parents have just got divorced. It’s a warming story and is replicated in this brief clip. It sees Vincent take a step outside to water a dying plant, all while sneaking a cheeky ciggie. With headphones on, listening to Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks song, he lets loose.
“Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood/ When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud/ I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form ‘Come in,’ she said, ‘I’ll give you shelter from the storm,’” Murray sings.
“And if I pass this way again, you can rest assured/ I’ll always do my best for her, on that I give my word/ In a world of steel-eyed death, and men who are fighting to be warm/ ‘Come in,’ she said, ‘I’ll give you shelter from the storm.’”
‘John Birch Blues’ – Bob Dylan
Murray, no stranger to the karaoke scene, joined forces with fellow Hollywood A-lister for a wholesome rendition of a Bob Dylan classic.
The duo, who took the stage a couple of years ago, joined a star-studded bunch of well-known faces in celebration of Dylan’s 77th birthday in an event which was held live from New York City’s town hall.
The concert, which also coincided with the 55th anniversary of Dylan’s iconic gig at the same venue in 1963, was titled ‘Tomorrow Is A Long Time’ and produced by the late and great Hal Willner.
The event welcomed a host of actors, comedians and musicians to put together a song for song recreation of the past event but nobody killed it better than Buscemi and Murray as they sang ‘John Birch Blues’.
‘More Than This’ – Roxy Music
Following on from Bob Dylan’s appearance in St. Vincent through Murray we’re now going back to one of the actor’s most widely adored films, Lost In Translation. One of the movie’s pivotal scenes which sees Murray and Scarlett Johanssen take on some classic karaoke in Tokyo, is a joy from start to finish.
It not only hands Murray the mic which, as we all know by now, can only go well. But the film also picks out an unusual but classic song for him to sing, as Murray belts out Roxy Music’s wonderful track ‘More Than This’. Murray would later team up with director Sofia Coppola for a song on A Very Murray Christmas which also included a collaboration with Phoenix.
‘Physical’ – Olivia Newton-John
There aren’t many appearances on the David Letterman show that Bill Murray could say didn’t go well. From the show’s very first episode, Murray became a regular and welcomed guest, always bringing with him a host of anecdotes and some serious laughs. But, sometimes he brought a song with him too.
One such moment came when Murray gave an aerobic performance of ‘Physical’ or as Murray describes it “you know the new Netwon-John thing.” The 1981 smash isn’t exactly spinning in Murray’s at-home jukebox, so far removed from his go-to karaoke numbers, but he still delivers a suitably crazed performance to let you know he’s really enjoying it.
‘House of the Rising Sun’ – The Animals
As we’ve figured out by now, there have been plenty of moments where Bill Murray has stumbled into public life with the same whimsy and intrigue that one would imagine a Dr Seuss character to possess. Seemingly completely unaware of his station in the world, Murray has found himself in some dingy bars during his time. Mor often than not, when he arrives there, he arrives with a song in his heart.
However clumsy this karaoke version of The Animals classic ‘House of the Rising Sun,’ there’s also a hefty dose of honest humanity that shines through. It’s the exact thing the band are singing about and the exact reason we all love Bill Murray so much.
‘Star Wars Theme Tune’ – Nick the Lounge Singer
Nick The Lounge Singer, one of Bill Murray’s most popular recurring characters during his tenure on Saturday Night Live, just happens to deliver a terrifyingly sexy rendition of the Star Wars theme.
Murray’s character, who would always sing his heart out with undeniable gusto, often changed his surname to suit the season… hence why ‘Nick Winters’ would enter what was called the ‘Powder Room’ apres-ski bar located at Meatloaf Mountain.
Accompanied by his piano player, played by Paul Shaffer, Nick Winters rolls around the bar and interacts with members of the audience. “Oh, that cast makes me so sad,” Nick says to a woman with a broken leg and played by Gilda Radner. “Don’t it make my brown eyes… don’t it make my brown eyes… don’t it make my brown eyes… bluuueee,” he croons.
At one point, Murray decides to contribute with his own addition to the famous John Williams piece, changing the lyrics to: “Star Wars/Nothing but Star Wars/Give me those Star Wars/Don’t let them end!” much to the amusement of the crowd.
‘Brandy You’re A Fine Girl’ – Looking Glass
To remind everyone about his prowess as a singer, he showed up at the AT&T Pro-Am golf tournament at Pebble Beach in 2012 with a plan in mind.
With Hollywood A-listers gathered at a private party of the event and enjoying the live entertainment of offer, Murray decided it was time to ramp up this shindig and, in a scene befitting of Lost In Translation, walked up to the microphone to deliver his own rendition of Looking Glass’ 1972 hit ‘Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)’ armed with Eastwood himself.
Kicking things off, Murray flies into a “do do do” as the crowd cheers on. Eastwood, clearly more than a little awkward at not knowing the lyrics, is prompted by Murray to get involved: “What a band!” states while delivering some melodies.
There’s no stopping Bill though as he urges the crowd to get involved while belting out the chorus: “Brandy, you’re a fine girl, what a good wife you would be.” Eastwood, offering a slower, softer approach to Murray’s all-in approach, closes: “I don’t know the lyrics but I’d better be moving on.”