Watch CBS News

Tradition Reigns On Final 'Late Show With David Letterman' Holiday Special

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- It was another sign of the end of an era on the "Late Show With David Letterman" Friday night.

As is tradition, Darlene Love performed “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” on Letterman's final holiday special.

Love also told Letterman Friday night she would sing the song again, but never on another TV show.

As CBSNewYork's Alice Gainer found out when she went behind the scenes, the clothing and hair styles may have changed over the past 21-years, and so has the saxophone player’s entrance, but the voice has remained constant.

“I sit in my dressing room and get nervous,” Love said, “Everybody knows the lyrics, don’t let me forget the lyrics. It’s like the Star Spangled Banner.”

It all started back in 1986 when David Letterman saw Love perform in a show with Paul Shaffer.

“On his show he said, ‘that’s the greatest Christmas song I’ve ever heard. We need to have her on our show,'” Love said.

She had no idea it would be a recurring performance.

“I think after like the 6th or 7th, when it got to the 8th I said I think this is gonna be an annual thing,” Love said.

“Over the years of trying to do it all different ways that the best thing we can do is just get the best people we can and present them in the best way we can and let Darlene wail,” Shaffer said. 

Other holiday show traditions include comedian Jay Thomas retelling his ‘Lone Ranger’ story, and throwing a football at a meatball atop a tree.

The late show host will retire next year after more than two decades on the air.

Letterman's last show will air on May 20. Stephen Colbert takes over later in the year.

You May Also Be Interested In These Stories

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.