Hail, Hail… My King of Late Night

Letterman Future Islands

There are a few television shows that really satisfied my thirst for music over the years.  Of course, there are the shows that purely focused on music – Austin City Limits (still to this day) and Sessions at W. 54th on PBS.  MTV brought me 120 Minutes.  Then, there were the talk and variety shows.  It was always a source of anticipation to see who would be on Saturday Night Live.  Hell, even the reruns on Comedy Central were responsible for me truly discovering Graceland, and giving me a true appreciation for folks like Randy Newman.

But, as far talk shows, none was more fulfilling than David Letterman.  I didn’t become an avid Letterman viewer until he took on the Late Show at CBS.  But, it was clear who was truly with it when it came to music.  The guy with the bad jokes and gargantuan chin had Bette Midler, Mariah Carey, and Richard Marx.  David Letterman had the bands that I listened to.  The Tonight Show came through every once in awhile, but The Late Show was always on point.

The most important factor was that you could tell that Letterman was a fan of music.  He might not be into all the acts that were booked each night, but if he was into it, he let you know.  He most certainly had a thing for drums.

I rarely discovered anyone on Letterman’s stage, but I most certainly did my best to know at certain times over the years who would be performing on it that night.

Below are many of my favorite performances over the years, or at the very least, the ones I can remember off hand.

“We’re on Letterman, who cares.”


There’s accordion in that?

Dude… Burt Bacharach is cool.

British Invasion of other sorts

His favorite bands performing his favorite songs

Beginning new incarnations

They came and destroyed

They came in tuxedoes and then destroyed

Sometimes an artist would make their mark

Sometimes they came “all the way from Brooklyn”

Sometimes it would be the King of New York

Paul would make the drinks

He’ll take all of that you got

Sometimes they would abandon him

Sometimes they would surprise him

Sometimes they would surprise me

Sometimes they would prompt a road trip

They would play my favorite songs

It would be my favorite band

They would stop by to say their own goodbyes

They would become his favorites and perform fitting tributes

This is for you Dave…


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