With (Darlene) Love, A Christmas Gift For You

Last week, I blogged about Billboard's Hot Holiday Songs chart, which was topped, yet again, by Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." The chart is pretty lame: All that gag-inducing treacle and Trans-Siberian Orchestra - and, as I noted, not a James Brown or Sufjan song in sight.

A commenter correctly pointed out that Darlene Love's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" was also noticeable by its absence. It's only one of the greatest Christmas recordings of all time. And yet there's no place for it in the seasonal Top 30? The campaign calling for a Congressional investigation begins here and now.

The song, from the 1963 compilation "A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector," is a stunner, matching Love's pleading powerhouse vocal with Spector's signature wall of sound. Written by Spector with Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, it's a simple, aching sentiment ("It's Christmas day/Please, please, please, please - baby please come home") that's artfully and expertly rendered. Love talked with Jacqueline Trescott about the summer-of-'63 recording session in a Sunday Q&A.

The singer, of course, performs "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" live on Letterman just before Christmas every year - a tradition that dates back to 1986. But "Baby" isn't coming home to late-night TV this Christmas because of the striking writers. So, for your viewing pleasure, The Royal We present the greatest of all of Love's Letterman appearances, from 2004. It's a knockout performance. (Though the YouTube video isn't so great; you're much better off clicking here for a superior version).

By J. Freedom du Lac |  December 20, 2007; 9:43 AM ET Christmas
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Am I wrong for still liking U2's version more?

Posted by: Hemisphire | December 20, 2007 10:52 AM

This whole album is great. I never tire of hearing the Ronettes and Darlene Love do numbers like "Winter Wonderland", "Sleigh Ride", and of course "Baby Please come home". Though I agree, U2's version is good as well.

Posted by: Bethesda | December 20, 2007 11:02 AM

Thank you. Darlene on Letterman had become a holiday tradition and I hadn't realized that, because of the strike,I'd be missing it this year. Thanks for substitute.

Posted by: WoW | December 20, 2007 11:15 AM

Darlene Love sang "Christmas For The Jews" on an SNL animated bit by Robert Smigel a few years ago: an underrated classic.

Posted by: byoolin | December 20, 2007 12:36 PM

Re this: "Am I wrong for still liking U2's version more?"

Yes. Yes you are.

It's a very fine take, indeed. (See/hear it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiSPNaQNGOY) But it doesn't match the intensity of the original. Plus, Bono's voice in the U2 version doesn't have the bluesy ache of Darlene Love's.

Posted by: J. Freedom | December 20, 2007 1:29 PM

U2's version caused my then-67 year-old father to look up from his paper as it played on Friday Night Videos 20 years ago and comment, "These guys are pretty good."

Posted by: slickwillie | December 20, 2007 3:31 PM

Thanks so much for the heads up on the 2004 video of Darlene. I saw it before, but appreciate the good quality. But no way is it the best. 2005 was incredible. Of course, I'm talking heavily visual now. The french horn, the violinists, Bruce coming down from the ceiling, the redhead backup singer with so much energy. The great encore. Just a perfect wonderful production.
And the music rocks.
Unfortunately in 2004 they even cut the encore short.
Thanks again for the heads up!

Posted by: dan | December 23, 2007 5:59 AM

The YouTube video linked here was swiped from my Web site. To see it and other versions with their original quality, go to my Letterman video archives at:

Posted by: David Yoder | December 24, 2007 1:38 PM

Wow! Hope you all saw Letterman last night, Christmas night. It was a repeat of the 2006 Christmas show, complete with Darlene Love. Awesome, thanks Late Show for continuting the tradition....

Posted by: Judy | December 26, 2007 11:41 AM

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