Each and every Sunday night when the clock hits eight, The Strombo Show celebrates the spirit of radio over on CBC Radio 2. It's music for music lovers by music lovers. To kick off the program, we always tip our hats to the legends, the noise-makers and the ground-breakers in a segment that we like to call: Nod to the Gods.
Darlene Love's holiday classic "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" was first released on A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector, an album of mostly secular Christmas tunes (produced by a Jewish man born on the day after Christmas). Spector originally intended the song to be sung by Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes, however her voice didn't give the song the emotion he thought it required. Backing Love's powerful vocal on the recording was a powerhouse cast of musicians, like Leon Russell and Sony Bono, with background vocals performed by The Blossoms, The Crystals, The Ronettes — and Cher.
The single and the album had the bad luck of being released on November 22, 1963 — the same day that U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. They did badly on the charts, and were considred a relative failure at the time, until they were reissued in 1972 on Apple Records. Many of the songs on the album have now gone on to become holiday classics.
It's almost fair to say that Christmas isn't officially here until Love wails "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" on The Late Show With David Letterman, accompanied by Paul Shaffer and the house band — something she's done every year since 1986 (except for 2007, when she was unable to perform due to the Hollywood writers strike):
This song has been used in the main titles of Gremlins and Goodfellas, and has shown up in other holiday films like Bad Santa and Christmas With The Kranks.
It has been covered by countless influential bands and performers, like Bruce Springsteen, Michael Bublé, Mariah Carey, Cher, Death Cab For Cutie, R.E.M., Joey Ramone, Sha Na Na and of course, U2.
In 2011, Love was finally inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, with an introduction from Bette Midler.
For further musical musings, new and old, join the collective for The Strombo Show on CBC Radio 2, every Sunday night at 8PM. And if you'd like to catch up or relisten, all of the episodes are archived on our Radio page