David Letterman’s Top 10 Musical Moments

Originally Posted on Rolling Stone

From Sonny and Cher’s reunion to Future Islands’ freakout, the most memorable performances during Dave’s 33 years in late night

David Letterman
(Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS)

When David Letterman permanently signs off the airwaves later this month, it won’t just be the end of one of the greatest comedy institutions in TV history — it’ll also close out an amazing showcase for musical talent. Nearly every episode of NBC’s Late Night With David Letterman and CBS’sLate Show With David Letterman had a musical guest, and it was the place where many Americans first saw everyone from R.E.M. and Weezer to Future Islands. We’ve put together 10 of the greatest musical moments from the shows’ history, and though the list is by no means complete — we could easily have gone to 100 — these are the performances we keep returning to over and over again.

R.E.M. – ‘So. Central Rain’ (1983)

To most people outside of Athens, Georgia and the college rock scene in the early Eighties, R.E.M. were a largely unknown band. But they did have enough buzz to earn a Letterman slot on October 6th, 1983, playing an early version of “So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)” off their sophomore albumReckoning — which wouldn’t actually hit shelves for another seven months. It was the band’s first time playing on network television, and it played a huge role in helping them reach a wider audience.

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This Day in Music History — December 19

1965 : Keith Moon collapses during a Who concert in Ontario.

1975 : Ronnie Wood leaves The Faces and joins The Rolling Stones.

1980 : Nine To Five, starring Dolly Parton and featuring the classic theme song by the singer (where she uses her fingernails as an instrument) opens in theaters.

2012 : Madonna gets angry at fans at a concert in Santiago, Chile, for smoking cigarettes near her against her wishes. The singer lectures the audience: “If you’re going to smoke cigarettes, I’m not doing a show. You don’t care about me, I don’t care about you. All right? Are we going to play that game? I’m not kidding. I can’t sing if you smoke.”

2014 : Darlene Love sings “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” on David Letterman’s show for the final time, as the host has announced his retirement. When Love first performed the song on Letterman in 1986, it went so well that Dave made it a Christmas tradition, and every year she would come back to sing it.

Foo Fighters joined Tony Joe White for “Polk Salad Annie” and Later Make Dave Cry

On the third night of their The Late Show With David Letterman residency, the Foo Fighters joined Tony Joe White for a bluesy version of “Polk Salad Annie.”

Foo’s also performed one of their own songs for a special web exclusive video. Letterman introduced, “These gentlemen, we’ve known each other for a long long time now. They have crossed my path in ways unexpected and expected. And, as a result, each and every year they grow to mean more to me as human beings and talents musical artists… It’s the second song of theirs that will always have great great meaning to me for the rest of my life,” he explained. Following the performance, a teary eyed Letterman proclaimed, “You see what I mean? That’s pretty good!”

Foo Fighters Begin Their Late Show Residency with a Black Sabbath Cover

The Foo Fighters are on a massive publicity tour for their HBO special and album Sonic Highways.  Everynight this week, the Foos will be the musical guest on the Late Show with David Letterman.  They kicked off the week with Zac Brown and a cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.” Enjoy!

Aretha Franklin Covers Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep”

from Buzzfeed

Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin got a standing ovation for her rendition of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” on Late Night With David Letterman last night.

Whitney Houston’s mother 81-year-old Cissy Houston, who sang back-up for Franklin in the 1960s, was among the singers.

Franklin, 72, has an upcoming classics tribute album, and “Rolling in the Deep” made the cut.

Franklin, 72, has an upcoming classics tribute album, and "Rolling in the Deep" made the cut.

Jose Luis Magaua / Reuters / Reuters

She even manages to sneak in a bit of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” to make it even grander. The album, aptly titled Aretha Franklin Sings The Great Diva Classics, comes out Oct. 21 on RCA Records.

Franklin dips into perfect classics, like Etta James’ “At Last” and Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.”

Franklin dips into perfect classics, like Etta James' "At Last" and Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive."

But also delves into more recent hits, like Alicia Keys’ “No One.” She’s reportedly been working with Babyface, Daryl Simmons, André 3000, Clive Davis, and other producers.

The full tracklist:

1. “At Last” (Etta James cover)
2. “Rolling In The Deep” (Adele cover)
3. “Midnight Train To Georgia” (Gladys Knight & the Pips cover)
4. “I Will Survive” (Gloria Gaynor cover)
5. “People” (Barbra Streisand cover)
6. “No One” (Alicia Keys cover)
7. “I’m Every Woman” (Chaka Khan cover) / “Respect”
8. “Teach Me Tonight” (Dinah Washington cover)
9. “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” (The Supremes cover)
10. “Nothing Compares 2 U” (Sinéad O’Connor/Prince cover)

Must feel pretty good to have a legend cover your music.

Aretha Franklin's Cover Of "Rolling In The Deep" Is Majestic

You can pre-order the album at iTunes or Amazon.

Listen to the recorded version below.

And tell us what you think!