Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday tunes: Everybody act busy! The Boss is coming!

New York magazine has a meditation on David Letterman's gradual but gratifying transformation: "The bad boy of Ball State, Huck Finn grown and weathered, David Letterman has become the national Daddy."

The bright line was drawn his last night on NBC, back in 1993, when the wry significance of this song was lost on no one.

Even Paul Shafer and The World's Most Dangerous Band (as they were then known) seemed a little stunned to realize that they were doing a valedictory performance with Springsteen. (Watch the guitarist and bassist gradually figure out that they're getting camera time with The Boss.)

Letterman has an insufficiently appreciated record of bringing out some amazing musical performances on his show. For some reason--perhaps not so surprising when you think about it--his forte seems to be in capturing performances with a prickly undertext, like this, this, and this.


fbear said...

I've come to appreciate WZ much more post mortem. Wow, what a songwriter.

Nothstine said...

I had the same experience. It was his final performances on Letterman [and a documentary on the making of his final album, on either MTV or VH1] that made me listen to The Wind [which I liked a lot], and go then back into his catalog.

And of course that's when you notice the line of other musicians lining up to record his songs. *That's* how you tell a songwriter.

Werewolves of London must have seemed a mixed blessing--it got him his mainstream audience, but at the price of nearly being branded a 'novelty song' writer.

When in fact he was just an excitable boy.


fbear said...

I discovered My Shit's Fucked Up on cable, of all things, on Jools Holland's show. That version is more bleeps than anything else, but luckily the YouTube version of the same performance is sans bleeps.