As the Late Show With David Letterman nears the end of its 22-year run on CBS, musical guests from every genre are being booked one last time before the venerable host hands over the reins to Stephen Colbert in the fall. Throughout his tenure at CBS, and at NBC for a decade before that, Letterman has invited numerous acts from country, bluegrass Americana and beyond to perform.
On Monday night’s show, Western swing legends Asleep at the Wheel bid farewell to Letterman with a rousing rendition of the Twenties pop-jazz standard, “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” featuring special guest vocalist Kat Edmonson. In addition to spotlighting bandleader Paul Shaffer on keys and members of his Late Show Orchestra horn section during the performance, the driving number from the iconic group’s latest guest-filled album, Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, also featured peppy fiddle work from the nine-time Grammy-winning band’s own Katie Holmes and the steel guitar of the group’s Eddie Rivers. As the tune ended, the towering Benson dropped to one knee to get a kiss on the cheek from his distinctively voiced – and relatively diminutive – duet partner.
Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, which also features Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Brad Paisley, Lyle Lovett, Jamey Johnson and more, is out now on Benson’s own Bismeaux Records label. In another nod to the King of Western Swing, Benson also wrote, produced and starred in a musical about Wills called A Ride With Bob.
With less than 28 shows to go before the curtain closes on his late-night TV career, Letterman has announced several of his final guests, among them Emmylou Harris, Ralph Stanley, Elvis Costello, Brandi Carlile, Amos Lee, Chris Stapleton and Norah Jones.