Jack Antonoff Talks With Jimmy Fallon About Writing The Taylor Swift Song That Made Him Cry

Late last year, Jimmy Fallon endured a terrible personal tragedy: His mother passed away. After he took some time away, Fallon returned to The Tonight Show for a tremendously emotional episode, the apex of which what Taylor Swift’s performance of “New Year’s Day.” Reputation had just been released at that point, and as one of Fallon’s writers later noted, one of the lyrics had an eerie, oddly specific, and touching connection to Fallon’s relationship with his mother, so much so that Fallon got teary and shared an emotional embrace with Swift after her performance.

Jack Antonoff was a guest on yesterday’s Tonight Show, and since he produced and co-wrote most of Reputation, including “New Year’s Day,” he and Fallon talked about the process behind writing that emotional song.

Antonoff said that the song was written “very quickly,” and added that he prefers to write in an intimate setting with few or no other people around: “Writing music is not much different than having a physical. You know, like you wouldn’t want…,” he said before trailing off. He went on to discuss his proclivity towards collaborating with just one other person at a time (like with Swift or Lorde), saying:

“When I first started writing music, I always wrote my own songs and it was a very lonely process. Then the way the industry works, it’s like, ‘Oh, you should go into this writing camp,’ and right away, I was like, ‘This is terrifying for me.’ So I only work with one other person, where you can buy the delusion together, and you can say something and not feel embarrassed. Once you add another person, three people, then teams start happening; it’s terrifying.”

Watch the video above, and revisit Swift’s emotional performance of “New Year’s Day” on The Tonight Show here. Antonoff also told a story about his van getting washed into the ocean and, as Bleachers, performed “Alfie’s Song (Not So Typical Love Song),” so check out those clips below.