Saturday Night’s Alright
Nathaniel Rateliff and his band performed last night on Saturday Night Live, singing two songs. It was his SNL debut.
Though he’s been performing since 2005, this is only Rateliff’s third late-night television appearance. First came Later… With Jools Holland on BBC back in 2011. Then in 2015, he appeared for American audiences on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Rateliff expressed his excitement to be back on late-night TV on social media, sharing two pictures taken 6 years apart with the following caption.
“What a journey From The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2015 with the Night Sweats to our Saturday Night Live debut in 2021. Tune in to see our family take the stage. See you tonight.”
For his first performance of the night, he played “Redemption”. For his second, he played “A Little Honey”. The latter is a track from his 2018 album Tearing at the Seams. The former is the end-credits score for the hyped-up AppleTV+ film Palmer starring Justin Timberlake. The emotional song is his first credit as an original composer for a film.
When the song dropped, it came as a surprise to Rateliff’s fans. He has a reputation as an old-school folk musician, the kind that drifts from town to town playing at intimate venues, rather than penning a tune that garnered awards buzz.
Nathaniel Rateliff Goes Big
To be tapped to write a song for a major motion picture, then appear on one of the most-watched TV shows in America, is a big step into the spotlight. That’s not exactly old school style, but it’s the kind of recognition someone as talented as Rateliff deserves.
Until “Redemption” dropped, his last release was “Xmas To Forget”, a holiday single featuring Elle King in support of The Marigold Project, Rateliff’s foundation dedicated to economic, social, and racial justice. Earlier in 2020, he released a stand-alone album, And It’s Still Alright. Coincidentally, the album was released almost exactly a year before his SNL debut, off by one day.