A lot of people like a lot of Christmas music. I don’t. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have some favorites, though.
My very favorite holiday tune, and the first one I can ever remember, is Darlene Love’s take on Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). The original is still a transcendent, hair raising recording over 50 years later.
Credit must also go to Phil Specter’s wall of sound production and the bouncy rhythm section that makes the song just go, go, go. It seems to accelerate as it unfolds, bursting with an energy most holiday songs would wilt under. It’s a joy to hear every single year.
However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a couple examples of Love’s annual Late Show appearances, where she’s performed the song since 1986.
That’s right; she’s had a de facto residency on David Letterman’s show since I was a four year old child. It’s kind of amazing to tumble through youtube, watching her boundless enthusiasm across the decades. Here’s the first one:
The recording is a bit rough, but she just exudes this warmth and energy, looking joyful to be there after some troubling years in her career. To follow it up, I’ve got her final live TV performance of the song right here:
When Letterman signed off for good, passing the baton to Stephen Colbert, he took the Darlene Love tradition with him. She’s still performing the song, though, and looks as healthy as ever, so I don’t doubt we’ll see another great recording in the future.
This is about as “seasonal” as I get, so.. Merry Christmas, everybody. I really hope this day is good for you, no matter what you’re celebrating or not.