Taylor Swift helped bring some joy to a grieving Jimmy Fallon when she made an unscheduled appearance on his late night show.
The talk show host canceled all of last week’s tapings following the death of his mother, Gloria Fallon, and returned Monday night, still visibly shaken from his loss. Holding back tears, Fallon at one point recounted a childhood memory of his mom squeezing his hand three times to say “I love you.”
Tonight Show writer and producer Mike DeCenzo took to Twitter for some background on Swift’s performance and the emotions she wrought. “She was not scheduled to do our show today. But we wanted something special for this first show back, so we asked her on a complete whim, since she had been in town doing SNL. She said yes with zero hesitation,” he explained.
While singing “New Year’s Day,” Swift delivered a lyric which paraphrases Fallon’s tender story — “Squeeze my hand three times in the back of the taxi.” DeCenzo and his fellow Tonight Show crew were in bits. “I nearly gasped. Tears. I think everyone in the audience started sobbing. I could see Jimmy silhouetted at his desk dabbing his eyes with a tissue. We all lost it. It was a beautiful coincidence in a beautiful performance,” he wrote.
Fallon and Swift’s hug at the end was “100% real emotion. Whatever you think of Taylor, she did something beautiful for Jimmy and our show today, and we’re forever grateful,” said DeCenzo.
Watch the performance below.
Taylor Swift at The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.