Sometimes, ice-cold television can get warm and fuzzy. In July 2012, when Savannah Guthrie took the co-anchor reins of “The Today Show” from Ann Curry, she was introduced with a video profile in which she professed her lifelong adoration for folk-rocker Shawn Colvin.
After the segment, Guthrie’s jaw hit the floor as Colvin herself strolled out to congratulate her, then join her on guitars and vocals in a cover of Bob Dylan’s “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go.”
The newscaster seemed genuinely moved by the experience.
Oddly enough, the idea for the summit didn’t originate with NBC, says Colvin, who returns to San Francisco’s Yoshi’s (where she tracked 2009’s “Shawn Colvin Live”) this week for three nights, backing her recent Buddy Miller-helmed “All Fall Down.”
“Before Savannah debuted on the show, they did a piece on her in USA Today, and she had a bucket list, and one of the items was to one day play guitar with me,” she says. “So — being the smart people that we try to be from time to time — we got a hold of the producers and said, ‘Well, she can if she really wants to!’ So it was us who put the word out.”
Plans quickly were set in motion. Colvin, 58, flew in and arrived at 30 Rockefeller Plaza after “The Today Show” was already taping that morning so Guthrie wouldn’t wander off-camera and spot her.
“They really kept it under wraps — I had to hide in a little corner until it was time to come out,” she recalls. And you could tell, she adds: “It was just a total surprise to her. But she can sing, and she can really play guitar, too. And for me, it was great. I mean, it’s nice to be wanted, right?”
From her 1989 debut “Steady On” through her new Harper-Collins memoir “Diamond in the Rough,” the Austin, Texas, native has met other luminaries — such as Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Taylor Swift, even James Taylor — who were awe-struck in her presence.
How did she respond? She laughs. “You don’t say anything, usually, because you’re so stunned,” she says. “So you just stammer ‘Th-th-that means the world to me!’ That’s about all I can cough up.”
Songs don’t leap into Colvin’s boat; she has to fight to land the good ones. But whimsical, keen-eyed observations like 1998’s Grammy-Award winning “Sunny Came Home” or “All Fall Down’s “American Jerusalem” and “Anne of the Thousand Days” have earned her a rabid fan base.
“People have even named their kids after me,” she says. “Some have called their children Shawn. And one couple actually named their boy Colvin!”
IF YOU GO
Where: Yoshi’s, 1330 Fillmore St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday
Contact: (415) 655-5600, www.yoshis.com