Nov 16, 2022
By Joey Arnone
Photography by Adam Wallacavage
Kurt Vile has shared a cover of Bob Dylan’s 2009 holiday song “Must Be Santa.” Vile’s rendition of the song features backup vocals from his two daughters. It is out now as part of the Spotify Singles Holiday Collection. Listen below.
In a press release, Vile states: “When I was asked to be on this Christmas compilation, they said ‘you can do any Christmas song you want, as long as it’s not repeated by somebody else on this series.’ I thought it was nice of them to invite me, but I didn’t know if I could pull off a Christmas song! Then my mind jumped to when John Agnello showed me the Bob Dylan version of ‘Must Be Santa’ while we were making the Smoke Ring for My Halo record. It’s a really hilarious video (he showed me that first), and it shows a rambunctious Christmas party. Bob Dylan has a wig on, and someone goes flying through a window. All this time, I thought it was Bob Dylan’s song. It’s really catchy, and he makes it his own as he usually does. I figured if I can do Dylan’s ‘Must Be Santa,’ if that’s not taken, it’s a sign. I gotta be the next chapter in this version of a Bob Dylan song. Then I realized it was actually a classic Christmas song, and was written however long ago, but I still wanted to do it justice the way Bob did. I wanted to be the guy who attempted to pull it off.
“This was also a great excuse to use my home studio OKV Central again, with my bandmate Adam Langellotti on bass, and Ted Young. Ted moved to Philly (he engineers with me a lot), but he was actually John Agnello’s assistant engineer back when I first heard Bob Dylan’s ‘Must Be Santa.’ It feels like a perfect circle, really. I thought I’d do an acoustic version and have my daughters sing backup, but then it turned into more of a weird synth version with their vocals, which is really the hook. I figured Bob wouldn’t hear it, but I still wanted to do it justice, and once I got my daughters singing with me I hoped he would at least like it. Now I know…he loves it [laughs]. Merry Christmas, Bob Dylan!”