Darlene Love joined Jimmy Fallon, the Roots and Anna Kendrick to perform a cheerful version of the downcast holiday song “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” on The Tonight Show using only classroom instruments.
Love delivered a brassy, imperious lead vocal, just as she did when “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” originally came out more than five decades ago, easily soaring over the Roots’ tinny, xylophone-heavy accompaniment. Fallon chipped in by singing background and keeping time. Kendrick, promoting the new Pitch Perfect 3 film, sang half of a verse but then passed the baton back to Love, who easily commanded the rest of the performance.
“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” was co-written by the Brill Building stalwarts Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry along with the famous “Wall of Sound” producer Phil Spector. (That same trio was also responsible for the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” and Ike & Tina Turner’s “River Deep – Mountain High.”) The song was subsequently included on the holiday album A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records in 1963.
By bringing “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” to The Tonight Show, Love is resurrecting a late night-TV tradition: Year after year, Love performed the track on Late Show With David Letterman.