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Top Ten Musical Performances of the Late Show with David Letterman

I grew up with David Letterman. Both the show and I are aged 33 years. My parents are die-hard Letterman fans and still have t-shirts from his NBC days (back when the show was called “Late Night with David Letterman.”) I’ve been looking at highlight reels all week and thought I’d make my own “Top Ten List” in Letterman fashion for the top musical performances from my memory.

10. At The Drive-In

I was attending school in Ohio when I heard rockers from my hometown were making waves in the music industry. This performance was epic for the Sullivan theater. No one rocks like ATDI.

9. TV on the Radio

My biased opinion will be littered all through this but I LOVE these guys.

8. Beastie Boys

Dope. Beasties in top form and take to the streets outside the Sullivan theater.

7. Foo Fighters

A huge reason I love Letterman was because of his admiration for music and it was no secret he adored, as Letterman puts it, “The Fighters of the Foo.”

6. Paul McCartney

C’mon. Ex-Beatle performing outside? It’s reminiscent of the Beatles’ rooftop concert of 1969.

5. Darlene Love

My mother loved the Phil Spector Christmas album. In fact, we still listen to it over the holidays. So this performance gave me them nostalgia feelz.

4. James Brown

This video says this is the “last great James Brown TV performance.” I tend to believe it. I saw him in concert in his later years and it was disappointing. This is the James Brown I remembered and had hoped to see. See Shaffer and Brown jam!

3. Janelle Monae

She owns it. She even boogies on Dave’s desk.

2. Al Green

Al Green. Check yo pulse if you don’t get down to Al Green.

1. Future Islands

LOVE the frontman, Samuel Herring. And this performance is still joked about and referred to. The song rocks and maybe Herring does better at smaller venues where you can watch him groove and get emotional. Either way, this will live in my memory for a long time.

Happy trails, Dave. If you have a favorite musical performance that appeared on Letterman, comment below.

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