The Power of Love

One of the highlights of the holiday season, Darlene Love’s performance of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” on “Late Show With David Letterman,” gets better every year. Love’s own growing pleasure in the annual event is palpable, and Paul Shaffer’s band keeps upping the ante, bringing in additional musicians and backup singers in a nod to Phil Spector’s patented Wall of Sound, the techniques developed by the infamous producer in the early ’60s, when Love first recorded the song. To see how this yuletide tradition evolved, just check out her first Letterman appearance, in 1986, and look at the same act 26 years later, in 2012. Then make a note not to miss Letterman’s last show before the Christmas week reruns, on December 20, when Love will raise the roof of the Ed Sullivan Theater once again. — John Birmingham