Paul Simon surprised viewers of last night’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon when he joined percussive dance troupe STOMP for a striking rendition of his and Art Garfunkel’s 1970 single, “Cecilia.” In retrospect, the collaboration was obvious, as STOMP is perhaps uniquely suited to replicate the peculiar rhythmic charm of the original track. And the performance, to put it plainly, killed.
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon has emerged as the unlikely music leader in the late-night talk show game, hiring “the legendary Roots crew,” as Fallon puts it, as the show’s house band, and casting a net wide enough to include 90s DC indie-rock stalwarts Jawbox (reuniting only for the show), yacht-rocker extraordinaire Christopher Cross (with special guest Michael McDonald), teenage-riot horrorcore rappers Odd Future, and incomparable new jack swingers Bell Biv DeVoe, among others. Largely, this is thanks to the show’s music bookers (and their bosses, who give them lots of freedom).
But welcome though it was, Simon’s appearance last night was likely the work of the show’s executive producer Lorne Michaels, the creator of Saturday Night Live and a longtime friend of Simon’s. Their long friendship has also resulted in a number of collaborations, including Simon’s four stints as SNL host and the simple yet memorable “You Can Call Me Al” video featuring Chevy Chase, directed by Michaels.
Chase would later reprise this role on NBC’s Community.