Last night Jimmy Fallon unleashed his greatest impression to date and what could be considered a nomination for the lead role in a future Neil Young Biopic. With the signature hat, a stoic focus, and a high pitched strong voice the late night host transformed Iggy Azaela’s Number 1 hit “Fancy” into a long lost Neil Young treasure. There were moments of the performance that you could squint and see Neil Young on stage, and other moments where squinting was unnecessary.
Things got even crazier when David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash came on to the stage to join their occasional band member. The combined force of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and (Fallon) Young added up to an incredible cover of this month’s biggest single. The performance was capped off by an impressive harmonica solo by Fallon that further established the authenticity of his performance.
Though its all for laughs, the real story here is Fallon’s remarkable ability to channel the folk rock legend. While he’s had his share of memorable roles in the past, most would stop very short before calling Fallon a “character chameleon”. What sells this performance is Fallon’s lack of any “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” moments that he had become known (and often hated) for on Saturday Night Live. Here its played straight and serious which makes the ridiculous cover all the more enjoyable. The way the light casts a shadow across Fallon’s face seems as if a 1960’s era Neil Young just stepped out of a time machine and onto the Tonight Show stage.
With the success he achieved playing the character, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Fallon revisit Young’s portrayal, especially considering his passion for repeating gags with new twists. Maybe the real Neil young could show up for one of those epic Tonight Show sing-offs? We hold our breath in anticipation.