NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Friday night marks the last holiday show for David Letterman.

As fans know every year tradition is king with one particular song, Darlene Love singing “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” taking center stage.

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As CBS2’s Alice Gainer found out when she went behind the scenes, the clothing and hair styles may have changed over the past 21-years, and so has the saxophone player’s entrance, but the voice has remained constant.

“I sit in my dressing room and get nervous,” Love said, “Everybody knows the lyrics, don’t let me forget the lyrics. It’s like the Star Spangled Banner.”

It all started back in 1986 when David Letterman saw Love perform in a show with Paul Shaffer.

“On his show he said, ‘that’s the greatest Christmas song I’ve ever heard. We need to have her on our show,'” Love said.

She had no idea it would be a recurring performance.

“I think after like the 6th or 7th, when it got to the 8th I said I think this is gonna be an annual thing,” Love said.

“Over the years of trying to do it all different ways that the best thing we can do is just get the best people we can and present them in the best way we can and let Darlene wail,” Shaffer said.

Other holiday show traditions include comedian Jay Thomas retelling his ‘Lone Ranger’ story, and throwing a football at a meatball atop a tree.

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“Is not necessarily as hallowed a tradition as some, but just in the repetition of them. Somehow, something like that has become comforting,” Shaffer added.

But, come this time next year when the names on the marquee have changed, where will everyone be?

“I’m going to just have to go over to her house I think, and she’ll open her fridge and the light will come on and we’ll do 10 minutes,” Shaffer said.

“I told him, I said, ‘we’re gonna go to David’s house and just start singing,'” Love countered.

For now, they’re just enjoying their last holiday show together, and saving all of their raw emotion for when the curtain falls.

The Late Show With David Letterman will air at 11:35 p.m. right after the CBS2 News at 11.

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