On Monday evening, Jimmy Fallon made an emotional return to The Tonight Show following a week-long hiatus from his late-night slot after his mum Gloria’s passing, and Taylor Swift was there to make the difficult time a little sweeter with a moving rendition of “New Year’s Day.”
Hot off the success of her SNL performances of “Call It What You Want” and “…Ready for It” over the weekend, the pop star surprised the comedian with her stirring ballad on the piano.
The 27-year-old songstress, dressed in a metallic hoodie for her close-up, shared a touching moment with the tearful host post-performance, as they embraced and she patted him on the back.
The lyrics, “you squeeze my hand three times in the back of the cab,” appeared to particularly affect Fallon, who recalled his late mother’s special signal for showing their love. “When we were little, my mum would walk us to this store, me and my sister, and she would squeeze my hand three times and say, ‘I love you,’ and I would squeeze back, ‘I love you, too,'” he remembered.
After Tay Tay’s tribute, producer Mike DiCenzo took to Twitter to laud the starlet for offering her vocals during the unannounced performance.
“[Taylor] was not scheduled to do our show today,” he wrote. “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 concluded: “That hug between Jimmy and Taylor after the song was 100% real emotion. Whatever you think of Taylor, she did something beautiful for Jimmy and our show today, and we’re forever grateful.”
Watch Swift’s full performance above.