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Yule Like This, Three: Very Early Christmas Treats by Darlene Love -- and The Smothers Brothers
December 24, 2011  | By David Bianculli

Happy holidays!

I just received a great gift from one of our faithful and generous TV WORTH WATCHING readers -- and thought I'd share it with you, along with another well-timed holiday bonus. First, sent along by TVWW reader Sanford Sklansky, is Darlene Love's first Christmas appearance on David Letterman's show, way back on NBC's Late Night with David Letterman in 1986.

Then, going back decades earlier, is audio of a pair of early-career performances by the Smothers Brothers -- performances which last less than a minute each, but have an impact that lasts much longer...

Sanford alerted us to this YouTube video, a delightful reminder of how low-rent, and yet how high-class, Letterman and company were back in their early NBC days. Watch this video, and enjoy how much Darlene Love throws herself into singing her 1963 holiday hit, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)."

But enjoy, also, these three other elements:


1) Will Lee, whom I see in concert several times each year in his role as co-conspirator of the Fab Faux, caught on camera right behind Darlene, enjoying himself immensely, and swaying back and forth to the beat even then.

2) After her performance, Letterman invites her back to sing "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" again next year. As we now know, he was serious. More than 20 times serious.

3) Keep listening for Letterman's thank-yous at the end. Among the guests he thanks who appeared on that night's show: Jay Leno!

My, how times have changed. Here's the video. Thanks again, Sanford!


And finally, as one last Christmas-time holiday treat, here are two other YouTube videos. Audios, really, but you get the idea. And both of them are very brief bits, featuring conversational or musical discussions of Santa, by Tom and Dick Smothers.

First up: a 37-second segment from their 1965 Mom Always Liked You Best! LP, in which Tom tells Dick what he knows about Santa:

And then, an even shorter comedy bit -- 28 seconds -- in which Tom unveils a personally written Christmas carol -- a deliberately shocking work-in-progress. Listen to this now, and I guarantee you'll remember it -- and laugh anew at it -- later.

Merry Christmas, Tom, Dick and Darlene. Thanks, once again, for the holiday joy!




Bernie Czarniecki said:

Hey David,

I was the guy who saved this beautiful piece of Christmas television on VHS. It has meant a great deal to me over the years, and I'm very pleased and humbled to see the countless heart-felt responses and thank yous! I have never gotten tired of watching - her pure joy and that of the "World's Most Dangerous" bandmates resonates through the screen into your very being!!! Merry Christmas to you and your family and fans/supporters!

Bernie (BernDiggityDog)

[Bernie -- Thanks SO much for saving and sharing this one. Lightning hit my house in 1989, and I lost more than 10,000 historical VHS and Beta (!) tapes of just those sorts of treasures. So I'm grateful, as well as envious. So what ELSE do you have in your private hoard? Inquiring TVWW minds want to know. - DB]

Comment posted on December 25, 2011 11:55 AM

EricG said:

And how about the old days of that Late Night World's Most Dangerous Band....just four pieces, and doing all the backing vocals? Sounds as big as any Motown studio full of session guys. Top shelf work, and best of the best...

[What a good eye -- and ear. As always, Eric... Thanks for noticing. Now, get back to work. - DB]

Comment posted on December 26, 2011 10:27 AM
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