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Letterman’s sidekick Shaffer talks TV, music

May 4, 2017

Musician Paul Shaffer, famous for his role as David Letterman’s band leader, joined Boston Herald Radio’s “Morning Meeting” show yesterday to talk about his performance in Boston tonight at 8 p.m. Here are excerpts:

Q: Talk to us about this show at the Wilbur.

A: I made a CD. I had a chance to make some new music for Rhino Records and it came out I don’t know, six weeks ago. And so I’m doing concerts now, and I got the old band back together from “The Letterman Show.” Yeah, so all the 22 years of being in the trenches every single night with these guys and one gal. And I got them back together to make this CD, and we got our old name back too from NBC, we’re called “The World’s Most Dangerous Band” again. And we had a lot of fun. We are a real band and we stayed together for longer than, I don’t know, most bands around. Twenty-two years or so.

Q: What sort of crazy songs do people ask you about?

A: People ask about the songs that we would play for the various celebrities who would come on, and we could make our own little comments sometimes and inside jokes ... well, like for Julia Roberts we would always play “Julia” by The Beatles, that’s an easy one.

Q: How has late night changed and become more part of the political spectrum?

A: Jon Stewart and of course Stephen Colbert that are specializing in political commentary, taking it to late night. It’s sort of become either that, or let’s play Ping-Pong. We’ve gone to extremes, I guess. I used to think that David Letterman was one of the few guys who could, besides jumping on a wall in a Velcro suit, he could also be able to interview a scientist or a politician or anything. Jimmy Kimmel, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything quite so honest on television. (On his newborn’s heart surgery.) I say, that shut me right up. And yes, it’s tied into an important issue. I say why not?

Q: People I’m sure ask you, how often do you talk to David Letterman and how is he holding up?

A: He holds up maybe better than I. It was a big change. It was a big change for both of us. To go 100 miles an hour down to zero all of a sudden ... but he definitely enjoyed his family, his time. I think we’re both, almost after two years now, really coming to the realization that, boy, that was quite an accomplishment, actually. Just living through it, you know? ... We have sort of a bond, you know, who else has been through this? ... Not too many people you can talk to about this stuff. We have a good time when we see each other.