In the 1960s, the go-to producer was Phil Spector. He is responsible for the production behind The Ronettes, The Righteous Brothers, The Beach Boys and the The Ramones–just a few names on his working roster numerous Top 40 single artists. Spector was known for his production style known as the “Wall of Sound,” which combined the performance of electric and acoustic instruments together. The arrangements of musicians would reach orchestra-size numbers and then would be recorded using an echo chamber.
It became a musical production method that appealed to both Brian Wilson and Joey Ramone so much, that they both employed Spector on their own bands’ albums.
In 1963, Phil Spector did the most incredible and released a Christmas album, using that very Wall of Sound technique. Recorded throughout September and October 1963, and released on November 22, the very day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Sales of the first pressing of the album were a failure. Reissues on different labels turned the album’s reputation around and sales have increased and made the songs holiday staples today.
Brian Wilson made an attempt to play piano on the Crystals’ version of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”, but was pulled from the project due to his low performing ability. Bruce Springsteen’s famed version is also based on this recording.
The song “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” was written by Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry and Phil Spector. It was meant to be sung by Ronnie Spector of the Ronettes, but at the end, it was felt that Ronnie could not provide the emotion that that song needed. Enter Darlene Love. The song became a success over time and was covered by numerous artists.
In December 2010, Rolling Stone ranked “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” number one on a list of The Greatest Rock and Roll Christmas Songs. saying “nobody can match Love’s emotion and sheer vocal power.”
Love performed the song every year since 1986 of Late Night with David Letterman/Late Show with David Letterman. The only year she did not perform was 2007 because of the Writer’s Strike, and a taping of her 2006 performance was shown instead. Every performance was teamed with Paul Shaffer and the show’s house band. The final performance, was December 19, 2014 after Letterman announced his retirement earlier in the year. As this was a show tradition, Love announced that she would not perform the song on any other show. Publicity and viewership of the final performance made Love’s version of the song reach #21 on Billboard’s Holiday Digital Songs chart last year.