Here’s the Heartbreaking Reason Why Taylor Swift Made Jimmy Fallon Cry
"I was crying. We all were."
Taylor Swift’s surprise performance on Monday’s episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon made fans cry for more than one reason.
The singer, who was not scheduled to be on the show that night, unintentionally helped pay tribute to Jimmy Fallon’s late mother during the comedian’s first show on air since the passing. While performing “New Year’s Day” from her new album Reputation, the 27-year-old serendipitously touched on something the late night talk show host’s mom used to do when he was a child.
Jimmy said in his opening monologue:
“As some of you know, my mother Gloria passed away recently and I canceled our shows last week to be with my family and make arrangements. She was the best audience. She was the one I was always trying to make laugh, and she was such a fan of the show and everything I did.
When we were little, my mum would walk us to the store—me and my sister—and we would hold hands. And she would squeeze my hand three times and say, ‘I love you,’ and I would squeeze back, ‘I love you, too.’ Last week I was in the hospital, at her side. I grabbed her hand and I squeezed, ‘I love you,’ and I just knew we were in trouble.”
In a purely coincidental moment, Taylor later sang a line that matched the childhood anecdote and left the comedian in tears. “You squeeze my hand three times in the back of the taxi / I can tell that it’s gonna be a long road,” she crooned as she played the piano. “I’ll be there if you’re the toast of the town, babe / Or if you strike out and you’re crawling home.”
The coincidence struck house band drummer Questlove of The Roots, who confirmed to fans that Taylor did know about the hand squeeze Jimmy shared with his mother prior to the show. “I’m just realizing Taylor didn’t readjust the song’s lyrics for tonight’s performance. But the narrative literally applies to the words Jimmy spoke of his mother. Wow. You can’t plan these things,” he tweeted.
Tonight Show staffer Mike DiCenzo also elaborated on the performance, tweeting a beautiful story about how the show came to be that night.
Not a Dry Eye in the House
“It was a really tough day for our whole staff. A lot of us knew his mom Gloria, and she was the best. The best. She loved the show, she loved all of us, and most of all, she loved Jimmy,” he wrote. “I’m sure today was especially tough for Jimmy. The fact that he came out, stood there, and did a normal monologue for the crowd is a testament to how strong he is.”
Explaining how the crew asked Taylor if she would perform “something special” and she agreed “with zero hesitation,” he said the moment was completely unplanned as the song was just released days ago.
“She sang ‘New Year’s Day.’ No one had heard it. Suddenly she sings the line, ‘Squeeze my hand 3 times in the back of the taxi.’ I nearly gasped. Tears. I think everyone in the audience started sobbing,” he recalled. “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.”