Although the song is about a tough breakup, “On My Own” carries an obvious resonance now as people continue to self-isolate during the coronavirus pandemic, which McDonald acknowledged before his performance. “To those of you out there who may be alone during this pandemic, we’re thinking about you, and I dedicate this song to you,” he said. “But I want you also to remember that although you may be alone right now, we’re all in this together and there are better times ahead.”
McDonald then eased into “On My Own,” letting his blissful baritone fly over the simple acoustic guitar progression, then vamping at the end, “By myself, I’ve got to find out where I belong/ I’ve got to learn to be strong/I know I’ll never live my life alone/By myself, by myself.”
Earlier this month, McDonald released an unexpectedly timely remake of Marvin Gaye’s classic, “What’s Going On.” He told Rolling Stone that the recording was part of a “very simple project” he’s been working on and that he plans to release a series of singles over the next few months.
“It’s nothing too ambitious, really,” McDonald said of the project. “Just myself and some local friends. We went up to a studio in Santa Barbara on the coast and just played some stuff live and decided what to record and hoped we’d remember the words by the time we got to taping. We’re all playing in one big room with an engineer. It’s a barn and we’re all on headphones in the same room trying to get out of everyone’s way.”