Last night one oddball pop-culture titan bid farewell to another, as Bob Dylan performed jazz standard "The Night We Called It A Day" on the second-to-last Late Show with David Letterman (a third oddball pop-culture titan was present in the form of guest Bill Murray).
For Letterman, who signs off for good Wednesday night, it marks the end of a 33-year late-night reign in which he introduced radical concepts such as irreverence and irony to audiences more accustomed to the staid quips of Steve Allen and Johnny Carson. Dave made it OK for mainstream comedy to get weird.
For Dylan, Tuesday's show served as a rare TV spot for a music legend who never shies away from his own weirdness; his last Letterman performance was way back in 1993. (Murray, on the other hand, was the first guest in 1982 and popped in an additional 43 times, including last night when he popped out of a cake.)
In celebration of Bob and Dave and YouTube embedding, here are 10 memorable clips of Dylan on the small screen, plus last night's poignant farewell (at the very bottom).
Freshly Secular Dylan Rocks out with the Plugz on Letterman Dave's Late Night show on NBC was relatively new in 1984. Dylan, who spent the early '80s releasing albums informed by his born-again Christianity, made his debut appearance to promote his new/secular Infidels LP with the help of L.A. punks the Plugz. The resulting three songs proved punchy and spirited, including this rendition of "Jokerman." (Vulture did this cool piece on the strange story behind the appearance.)
Dylan Goes Escalade Plenty of lefty '60s activists traded their ideals for careers in finance once Vietnam sputtered to a close. While Bob Dylan was never an avowed environmentalist, some parallels exist when one of the faces of Woodstock-era counterculture becomes the face of a brand most associated with drowning polar bear cubs. And where the hell is he going? Why does he exist the car? What's happening?
Bob Jams with ... Dharma & Greg? Dharma, that irrepressible free spirit, and Greg, that starched-collar stiff, found unlikely love for five seasons on ABC's boilerplate sitcom Dharma & Greg. Bob Dylan found a random-ass cameo on the show, featuring surplus laugh track and requisite kookiness. Bonus: A rare Bob Dylan smile!
Debuting with 'Sorrow' Aged folk song "Man of Constant Sorrow" was written around 1913, but it's experienced two big boosts in popularity: When Depression-era George Clooney mimed out the Soggy Bottom Boys' version in 2000 Coen brothers flick O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and when fresh-faced Bob Dylan made his TV debut with the song in 1963.
Music Star, Meet Pawn Star Chumlee, the comic relief on the not-so-harrowing History Channel swap meet known as Pawn Stars, sought out Bob Dylan on the streets of Las Vegas and found him with remarkable ease. How are we all not running into Dylan constantly?
Getting Sexy with the Angels Slate nailed this left-field 2004 Victoria's Secret ad spot - in which a vacant Dylan slithers through a palatial Venice estate, almost encountering a wind-clad underwear model - with the perfect headline: Tangled Up in Boobs.
Get Behind Me Satan ... Or God ... Or Something In 2004, Dylan granted 60 Minutes a rare one-on-one TV interview. Unprompted, Dylan eludes to having made a "bargain" with "the chief commander." Given the context of his Christianity, it's likely he was referring to God. But, given the precedent of blues giant Robert Johnson and Treehouse of Horror Homer Simpson, it's also possible the oblique statement refers to Old Scratch. The heated YouTube comment section offers little insight.
Blowin' in the Broadcast Nothing fancy here. Just Bob doing "Blowing in the Wind" on TV in 1963.
Dylan does Cash Bro vibes were at all-time highs between musical greats Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan in 1969, a year that saw Cash duet on "Girl from the North Country" off Dylan's Nashville Skyline release. To return the favor, Bob appeared as the first-ever guest on The Johnny Cash Show, where he played Nashville track "I Threw It All Away" - in apropos black against a black backdrop.
Hold Onto Your Hat: A Grammy Lifetime Achievment Award Introduced by Jack Nicholson, who extolled his ability to express the human condition through song, Dylan was mostly concerned with keeping his hat pinned down as he received the 1991 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Dylan pump-fakes an anecdote about a lesson gleaned from his father, to big laughs, before ultimately revealing his dad's assurance: "You know it's possible to become so defiled in this world that your own mother and father will abandon you. And if that happens, God will always believe in your own ability to mend your own ways. Thank you."
A Farewell to Dave Finally, here's last night's touching goodbye on the penultimate Late Show.
Bonus clip! Hat tip to reader jough for reminding us of the Soy Bomb incident at the 1998 Grammy Awards.
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