Where do Bruce and the E Street Band’s appearances on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon rank within a list of Bruce’s television appearances? As posed in the comments on a below post, it’s certainly an interesting question.
For the exercise, only appearances on television “shows” are considered. Portions of full shows, such as the MTV Europe live broadcast of the Barcelona 2002 show is out, as is the Live in New York City HBO special. Also out are things like the SOS Racisme Concert, or the Carousel House or the Super Bowl.
The top five:
1. “My City of Ruins,” America: A Tribute To Heroes Telethon – September 21, 2001
I’m not sure this could ever be topped.
2. “Death to My Hometown,” “Jack of All Trades,” and “The E Street Shuffle,” Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, March 2, 2012
I’d put this at number two due to a confluence of factors: the performance (excellent), the use of the special guests (Morello and the Roots), and the high stakes nature of the performance, debuting two new songs and the first use of saxophone in the E Street Band after Clarence’s death.
3. Spectacle: Elvis Costello with…, September 25, 2009
There was Bruce and Elvis doing a Sam and Dave song on the stage of the Apollo Theatre. There was the solo acoustic “American Skin” and the definitive version of “Galveston Bay.” And the three songs with Bruce, Roy and Nils joining Elvis and the Impostors, bringing a new power to “The Rising” plus an incendiary “Seeds.”
4. “Kitty’s Back” and “Merry Christmas Baby,” Late Night with Conan O’Brien, December 11, 2002
The band in mid-tour form, basically bringing a small part of their then-annual Christmas shows to national television.
5. “Lonesome Day” and (in particular) “You’re Missing,” Saturday Night Live, October 5, 2002.
“Lonesome Day” was solid if unspectacular, but the still-never-repeated solo piano “You’re Missing” was unexpected: conventional wisdom dictates either second new song or a live classic for the second SNL song.
Missed the cut:
SNL ’92, Letterman ’93, Letterman ’95, MTV Where It’s At ’98, Conan ’99, MTV VMAs ’02, Fallon ’10, Fallon ’12 (first appearance)