As the Late Show with David Letterman winds down (3 shows left this week, then…out), I am recalling the great musical moments Dave and bandleader, Paul Schaeffer, brought us thru their shows. No talk show has ever brought musical talent onto a network TV stage the way Dave and Paul did. From Tom Waits to the Foo Fighters. From Dolly Parton to Darlene Love. From B.B. King to Warren Zevon to Lou Reed (RIP). A to Z. All artists. All genres. Below the radar. Above the radar. And for the last 22 years, all from the stage of the Ed Sullivan Theater where The Beatles made their first TV appearance back in February of 1964.
One of my favorite memories was one of John Hiatt in a 1994 appearance after the New York Rangers had won (or were playing – and did win) the Stanley Cup. He played a rockin’ version of Cross My Fingers off his latest Perfectly Good Guitar album and changed the “cross my fngers” lyrics in the chorus at the end to “let’s go Rangers.” He had Paul and the band and the audience jamming and jumping along as well. Felicia loved it! And I can’t believe this is up on YouTube – check it out, its pure Live on Letterman.
Speaking of…in 1997, they produced a Live on Letterman CD which barely – as it only could do – captured the essence of the quality and breadth of the show’s musical guests. I often wondered why there wasn’t a volume 2, 3, 99, etc., but on the other hand…where does it stop? With the explosion of the internet and social media and YouTube and live streaming, in 2009 it reformed as the Live on Letterman online concert webcast series.
Several years ago, I used to keep a VCR tape in my VCR recorder (I did say it was several years ago – several!) and I’d tape many of the musical acts on the show. I’ve got that same Cross My Fingers video on one of those tapes. I’ve always intended to transfer or otherwise turn those into more modern digital formats, but…someday.
So…the convergence of outdoor living and music…and Letterman?
Outdoor Living. Outdoor Letterman. Dave – and Paul – we’re going to miss you, your late shows and the music you brought us. Now, go outside and play. Loud.