Bill Murray Keeps Popping Up to Sing in NYC: Here’s Why

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Bill Murray in NYC’s Washington Square Park, Jan. 19, 2022

We know that actor Bill Murray isn’t shy about singing in public. Although no one would ever confuse his voice with that of other legendary showmen like Freddie Mercury, Roger Daltrey or Steven Tyler, Murray has frequently stepped in front of the mic to sing… loudly and proudly.

He’s been doing so in recent days in New York City, with surprise performances indoors and outdoors. Here’s why. Murray stars in a new independent film, New Worlds: The Cradle of Civilization, that’s coming to theaters on Feb. 2, 2022. The movie follows Murray and cellist Jan Vogler in a 2018 performance at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, Greece. It premiered on July 16, 2021 at the 74th Cannes Film Festival.

From the studio’s description: On a glorious Greek evening, screen legend Bill Murray and world-renowned cellist Jan Vogler rock the Acropolis with a timeless mix of music and poetry. Captured on film by director Andrew Muscato, Murray and Vogler are joined by the dazzling Mira Wang (violin) and dynamic Vanessa Perez (piano). The international quartet enchants the Athenian audience from the 2,000 year-old stage of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus with musical reflections on love, hope and heartbreak. Spanning from Bach to Van Morrison, Whitman to West Side Story, the wildly entertaining, humorous and deeply touching program is infused with the one-of-a-kind charm of Bill Murray.

Watch the trailer

On January 19, at Washington Square Park in New York’s Greenwich Village, a clip of Murray went viral as he, Vogler, Wang, and Perez regaled a few hundred onlookers with performances of several classics, including George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin’s “It Ain’t Necessarily So” and Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s “I Feel Pretty” and “America” from West Side Story.

In the former, the musicians begin to play. Thirty seconds in, a man strides to the microphone, slips off his mask, and there’s Murray, singing “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” At one point, he ad libs, “Hey, not bad… but not good, either,” as he encourages the surprised crowd to sing along.

Murray has sung in public for decades. His lounge singer sketches as “Nick Winters” on Saturday Night Live are legendary.

Related: “Nick the Lounge Singer” sings the Star Wars theme

An attendee described the Washington Square Park stunt as a mini-flash mob. Murray and crew didn’t have a permit and apparently alerted some friends that it would be taking place quickly.

In this clip, Murray explained the plan to a confidante.

For the songs from West Side Story, Murray needed to consult the printed music from time to time in order to keep pace with Sondheim’s fast-paced lyrics.

The New York Post reports that Murray and his cohorts pulled off a similar stunt on Jan. 18 at Bemelmans, the tony piano bar at the Carlyle Hotel, just off Fifth Avenue on New York’s Upper East Side. Alas, no footage has surfaced.

New Worlds: The Cradle of Civilization‘s director, plus pianist Vanessa Perez, and others will appear at a Q-and-A at the 7 p.m. screening at NYC’s Angelika Film Center on Feb. 2. Who knows? Maybe Murray will show up, too.

Listen to the studio recording of Murray and Friends performing “I Feel Pretty

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