Host Jimmy Fallon joined Newman at the piano for a quick interview, allowing the musician to provide some musical accompaniment as he discussed the shuffling rhythms that permeate his songs – even, he joked, the most depressing ones about death. The pair also discussed their shared friendship with Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels. Michaels, Newman and Steve Martin notably co-wrote the 1986 comedy Three Amigos, while Michaels also produced Newman’s concert film, Live at the Odeon — and provided Newman with his suits and shirts.
Newman also spoke about originally writing his song “Lonely at the Top” for Frank Sinatra, prompting a quick duet of the tune between him and Fallon. Newman said of penning the tune for Sinatra, “I thought it’d be hip if he did a song like that, all that complaining about being so rich and famous. So I played it for him in his office, he was sitting at the piano, leaning on the piano. After I played it, he said, ‘Got anything else, kid?'”
Newman also teamed with the Roots for a rendition of one of his best known tunes, 1977’s “Short People.” The musician crooned the track in his unmistakable sardonic drawl while Roots guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas slipped in some thick riffs and Questlove kept the song moving with a flawless shuffle.
Newman released his most recent album, Dark Matter, in August.