Last call: Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

Way back when in the vinyl era, Rolling Stone gave the album A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector (1963) five stars in its rock and roll record guides and singled out Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” as one of the highlights. Rolling Stone still rates it the greatest Christmas album of all time. There is no arguing about taste, and my knowledge of the genre is extremely limited, but by contrast with Rolling Stone’s straight reportage and political opinions, I think that rating is not completely unreliable.

Ms. Love has performed the song annually for Christmas on David Letterman’s shows for nearly 30 years, first on NBC and then on CBS. Dave Itzkoff tells the story in “Darlene Love’s last ‘Letterman’ Christmas.” CBS News took a look back at Ms. Love’s performances on Letterman’s shows over the years in a segment posted here.

Letterman is leaving his CBS show next spring, so Ms. Love’s performance of the song on the show last night was the last time around (video below). I think it’s fair to say they brought the tradition to an end on a high note with an epic wall of sound arrangement in the class Spector style. This should be good for whatever ails you.

Itzkoff’s New York Times story is terrific. Among other quotable quotes, Itzkoff presents this one from Steve Van Zandt (who is producing an album for Ms. Love), explaining the commercial challenge faced by Love’s new album: “There’s no explanation for it, other than there being no place in the modern world for greatness. We’re going to create greatness anyway, in spite of what the modern world may want or not want.”

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