Eddie Vedder performs ‘Betterman’ for David Latterman

20 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Eddie Vedder Gives Emotional Farewell Serenade to David Letterman: Watch Him Sing ‘Better Man’ (VIDEO).

The departure of Letterman, on his last Late Show with David Letterman (CBS, 11:35 p.m.) on Wednesday, obliges us to look at the late-night landscape and be afraid. With David Letterman’s last show fast approaching, late night hosts are taking their time to say farewell to a host that influenced many of their careers today.

Pearl Jam played for David Letterman on The Late Show for the first time in 1996, and almost 20 years later, Eddie Vedder showed up to sing an emotional version of his band’s song “Better Man” to commemorate Letterman’s departure. Backed by Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra, the Pearl Jam frontman delivered an electrifying rendition of “Better Man,” off of PJ’s 1994 release “Vitalogy.” Initially, the song seemed an odd choice, considering the lyrics have been interpreted as describing an abusive relationship, but it soon became evident that Vedder’s delivery of the line “can’t find a better man” was specifically meant as a tribute to the retiring David Letterman.

Vedder told Spin he wrote “Better Man” “before I could drink – legally,” and though it wasn’t released as a single, it hit the top of Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and spent eight weeks there when it was released in 1994. Fallon took a moment on last night’s The Tonight Show to recount his last time appearing on Letterman’s Late Show, and how the host’s “33 years of innovation, fun, and just plain weirdness… but mostly fun” had opened his eyes to the type of comedy that could be done on TV. It was one of Vedder’s best performances to date, fueled almost entirely by emotions – so much so that the singer broke a guitar string midway through.

In the most praised installment of his still-young stint as host of “The Late Late Show,” James Corden crashed a stranger’s home, set up cameras and recorded an entire episode. It’s a personal, sweet, and honest few minutes from Fallon, who even takes the time to prove how he and Letterman were connected from a young age thanks to a surprisingly prophetic 8th grade teacher.

Corden called it an “experiment” and CBS promoted the show online as “making late-night history.” But as with so many bold ideas that seem radically new in late night, David Letterman did it first. Chicago upstart comedian Bill Murray joins Dave on the couch for tonight’s penultimate episode, while the musical guest is a singer-songwriter from Minnesota who goes by the name of Bob Dylan. In 1980, on his short-lived NBC morning show, a kind of out-of-town tryout for his evening program, he took his band and crew to tape an episode in a home in Cresco, Iowa.

But now that Letterman’s legacy is being celebrated as he prepares to retire from his long run as the star of “Late Night” on NBC and “Late Show” on CBS, the greatest evidence of his titanic impact remains what’s on other talk shows. Corden has employed many ideas that longtime Letterman fans will find familiar, including prankish remote segments in which he ineptly moonlights in a sales job or takes a star to a fast-food drive-through. The good old days were just the other week, when you could savour Letterman, Stewart and Colbert in a late-night bender of sarcasm, irony and ridicule for the political and pop-culture status quo.

On Late Night with Seth Meyers, the host has a gift for saying the obvious and the show’s obsession with social media in his jokes and interviews smells faintly of desperation. You see it when Jon Stewart slyly hints at his indifference as he asks stars about their movies or when Fallon turns to his piano player and says, “Hey, James, could I get some thank-you-note-writing music, please.” (Letterman would introduce phone-call segments by requesting “Some dialing music, please” from Paul Shaffer.) In another example, Fallon, sitting at his desk, scratches his chin and looks upward thoughtfully before a flashback sketch begins. Where Colbert once maniacally mocked all things right-wing from politicians to harrumphing cable news hosts, Larry Wilmore concocts brittle humour from incidents of racism and then makes dubious comedy with a motley collection of guests.

They are more likely to break into song or dance or play games with celebrities than they are to rib them, and they jump into stunts with earnest enthusiasm. A few political satirists approach something similar, but it’s unlikely that in the age of social media, another network star will replace his particular brand of common sense: a mix of goofy mischievousness and buttoned-up dignity.

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