Darlene Love Bringing Lots Of Love to LI

She’s performed with Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin and Frank Sinatra to name a few. And she’s a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. With all those accolades, the legendary Darlene Love is still keeping busy in 2018 after a whirlwind pre-Christmas tour.

“I knew all the work I had but I didn’t realize it until I started doing it,” Love said. “I started at the end of October and I just finished about two weeks ago. Then it starts again.”

Love, performing at Landmark on Main Street on Feb. 16 as part of her Valentine Tour, is perhaps best known for her signature “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” She performed the soulful Yuletide classic for nearly three decades on David Letterman’s annual Christmas-themed episode.

The friendly, warm Love spoke of singing recently with Jimmy Fallon using toy instruments, performing with legends and how the 2013 Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom shed some light on her truly remarkable career.

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You performed “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” with Jimmy Fallon before Christmas. How did that come about?
That was really a surprise. We had been trying to get on the Jimmy Fallon show unbeknownst to him. I did The View and Jimmy Fallon was doing The View the same day. And that’s how I met him. He was like, “Oh my god I want you to do my show!” I was like, “I want to do your show.”

The next day they called and said, “Can you do the show tomorrow?” It literally happened that fast and it was such a surprise and such a wonderful Christmas gift for me. He came up with this idea to do “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” unlike I’ve ever done it using all these little children toys and blocks and things. It was funny but it was so real. It was about having fun and a good time at Christmas.

Did you nail it in one take or did it take a couple of times to nail it down with the toy instruments?
I think it took two or three takes and that’s to make sure you could hear us and the microphones were set up right. But I think after the second take we were done. It was supposed to look like it was a spur-of-the-moment thing which it really was and all of us were in this little bitty two-by-two room having a lot of fun almost like what kids do.

What can fans expect from this upcoming Valentine Tour?
We take out all the Christmas things and put back in the Darlene Love songs. Of course I have “Today I Met The Boy I’m Gonna Marry” and people just love to hear that song especially on Valentine’s Day. We have love songs that we put in the show around that time of the year.

It’s probably like picking between children, but do you have a personal favorite you like to perform?
One of my favorite songs out of the Christmas category is “River Deep Mountain High.” I got a chance to record that a few times with Stevie Van Zandt when he did my latest album (Introducing Darlene Love). He actually put that song on the album with a completely different chase in the intro but immediately you know what song it is. I think it’s the energy of the song that gives you the love of singing that song. There’s a few songs that I probably would never get tired of singing and “River Deep Mountain High” is one of those.

You worked with so many artists over the years. Was there any artist you were in awe of?
There were a few of those. It was like when I first met Frank Sinatra. I had heard about him over the years and I loved him so very much. I got a chance to work with his daughter, Nancy Sinatra, for a couple of years and therefore I ended up meeting Frank Sinatra, too.

And of course Elvis Presley. Those were people I never dreamed of working with. I thought, “Well wow, that’s great, we’re in the same business. But will I ever cross paths with them? No.” So when I did it was even greater [to have] the opportunity to be able to sing with such stars. You’re in awe of them.

Did 20 Feet From Stardom shed a bit of light on your life?
It shed a lot of light on everybody, not just about me but background singers period. What they really do, are they just standing there doing “oohs” and “aahs” and whatever? No. It’s a whole other job. They did focus more on me than they did the other singers because [there was] more film out there on Darlene Love. Plus The Blossoms, the group that I was singing with, was the first black background singing group that was singing background behind everybody. That made me have a whole lot of film to be with people like Elvis, Dionne Warwick and Aretha Franklin.

jason macneil

jason macneil

Jason MacNeil is a Toronto-based freelance writer for various outlets over his career including the Toronto Sun, Billboard.com, MTV.com, Huffington Post and All Music Guide among others. Originally from Atlantic Canada (Cape Breton to be exact), he enjoys trying to find the next great band first and nagging his friends about them. Follow him on Twitter @kingjmusicman