Paul Simon could give a few other legacy acts lessons on how to perform on TV without coming across as being desperately thirsty for attention. Simon ended his touring career last year, when he played the final date on his farewell tour. But Simon isn’t done with playing live. He’ll headline San Francisco’s Outside Lands festival later this summer, and after that tour ended, he’s already done performances on SNL and Colbert. Last night, Simon was on Colbert again, and this time, he had Colbert himself as part of his backing band.
Simon’s classic 1986 album Graceland was famous for the way Simon played around with African rhythms and harmonies, but that’s not all Simon did on the album. He also experimented with zydeco, the old New Orleans hybrid sound, on the album track “That Was Your Mother.” As it happens, Colbert’s bandleader is Jon Batiste, an honest-to-god New Orleans jazz prodigy. And so when Simon returned to Colbert’s Late Show last night, he performed “That Was Your Mother” with Batiste on accordion and Batiste’s Stay Human band backing him up. And Colbert joined in on the fun — playing a frottoir, a washboard that you wear like it’s a vest, and managing not to embarrass himself.
The whole performance is a lot of fun. Simon is daffily loose, busting out some truly unexpected dance steps. And Colbert, Batiste, and everyone else was clearly delighted to be sharing a stage with this man. The performance is well worth your time, and you can watch it below.
Simon didn’t have any new music to promote, but for God’s sake, listen to Graceland.