Many a late night host has fallen under the spell of Bruce Springsteen.
Conan O’Brien played host, sat in on guitar and employed his E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg for years. Fellow New Jersyian Jon Stewart hosted and mostly gushed in a way he never did with anybody else.
Now Jimmy Fallon seems to have the upper hand in all things Bruce, having hosted a week long salute to Springsteen, had him on Monday, others singing cover versions of his songs Tuesday through Thursday and closed it out by having him the full hour Friday.
Though Fallon has calmed down a little bit from the last time Springsteen was on, he was still in full-fawning mode, flashing the cover from Springsteen’s impending new album “Wrecking Ball” more than a construction signal man flashes a SLOW sign.
He laughed a little too loudly at his guest’s jokes, asked the kind of jokes Chris Farley used to ask (“remember when you played ‘Hungry Heart’ live and the crowd would sing the first verse and chorus? That was awesome).
But something about Fallon tickles Springsteen such that he participates in skits with him, poking fun at his earlier personas. Having done that wonderfully weird cover of Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair” with Fallon doing his best Neil Young impersonation, Springsteen, in his “Born to Run” era beard and cap, joined in on the chorus.
Friday, to begin the show, Fallon’s Neil Young did LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It,” with “Born in the USA” era Springsteen joining in on bandana and chorus.
The interview segment was largely about fashion – a bandana that kept him out of Disneyland story; a look back at previous looks, and his problem Friday with a stuck zipper on his leather jacket.
Most of the time was spent on music, which was just as well. He and the band had performed the title song and first single, “We Take Care of Our Own” on Monday, sot he band delved deeper into the tracks: the Irish stomper “Death to My Hometown,” with Tom Morello joining in on guitar.
The E Street Band is not a band short on guitars: Springsteen’s an unsung ace on his electric guitar; Little Steven Van Zandt is his perfect foil and lead guitarist; and Nils Lofgren, hired when Little Steven took a break, wasn’t let go when he returned (plus his wife Patti Scialfa also strums on an acoustic guitar). Still, Morello hung around for the post-Katrina ballad “Jack of All Trades” as well as the capper, a version of “E Street Shuffle” that also blended in the members of Fallon’s peerless house band The Roots – so there was a sixth guitarist in the Roots’ Capt. Kirk Douglas. Not to mention the blend of horn sections, the tuba solo and not to be forgotten, Fallon inserting himself as part of the band as well, just as Conan had done. This time, though, keeping the flame alive of the old skit on “Saturday Night Live” that launched his career, he made do with cowbell.