David Letterman’s Great Music (Already Updated!)
David Letterman’s show is over after thirty plus years. If you want to read more about that, you can try this article about Letterman’s beginnings, this article about his career, and, for the sake of balance if nothing else, this one about his lechery. This though isn’t about any of that.
This is about the show’s music, which has been quite good, and features of two of my favorite performances ever: Mute Math doing “Typical” (as seen above) and Earl Scruggs and damned near everybody else doing “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” (as seen below).
Neither requires much in the way of contextualization which I’m now going to provide anyway. Say what you will about Mute Math’s relative popularity but there’s no denying the band’s having blown the damn doors off the theater. They’re lead particularly by the drummer’s all-out assault on his kit, a performance earning Letterman’s enthusiastic affirmation. “He’s a monster,” mutters somebody on mic, presumably a taken aback and/or impressed Paul Shaffer. The crowd loses it.
That crowd is just as impressed by bluegrass godfather Earl Scruggs standing in the middle of what can only be described as some major league heavy hitters: Marty Stuart on mandolin, Jerry Douglas on steel guitar, Glen Duncan on fiddle… Actually, let’s try hyping that supergroup again. Two of its lesser members are Vince Gill (who has sold 26 million records) and Steve Martin (who is Steve Martin) and that’s not a knock against either of those two. Even performing something that everybody’s heard a million times before – something that Earl Scruggs had been playing for almost 50 years when this was recorded, this performance is still so thoroughly energetic, almost as if it was being debuted by excited newbies.
So, think of Letterman what you will, but the music’s worth remembering too.
Update: Holy guacamole! Check out Fiona Apple doing “Criminal” – it’s like a damned bomb going off!