When it was announced that producer extraordinaire Brian Eno would be the guest on last night's The Colbert Report, no one could have anticipated this would happen: Michael Stipe, Colbert, and Eno singing a rendition of Bill Withers' "Lean On Me" together. With R.E.M. calling it quits, we figured it'd be a while before anyone heard Stipe sing again, but there he was, enshrined on Colbert's Rock & Roll Shelf of Fame, since R.E.M. was the first band to ever perform on Colbert's show. The host does a great job harmonizing with the two vets, but just the image of Eno and Stipe singing together makes this one of the late-night music highlights of 2011. It's just a shame R.E.M. never linked up with the producer during their run.
Prior to the performance, Colbert sat down to interview Eno, one of the most influential and pioneering figures in modern music history. Seriously, there isn't an artist today that hasn't been inspired by his sonic landscapes, innovative production techniques, or his "discovery" of ambient music. Eno rarely, if ever, appears on television, so this was a must-watch event for fans of his work:
Thankfully, Eno was there to promote his art and not his political agenda: he' been outspoken in the past on the topic of Palestine and Israel, but he kept his views on Middle East relations to himself. Instead, he talked about how he decided to leave Roxy Music after he began daydreaming about his laundry during a concert, the youthful act of singing, and the genesis of Ambient 1: Music for Airports. They're all oft-repeated tales, but it's still great to hear Eno tell them on Comedy Central. He also told Colbert that once a week, his U.K. studio hosts an amateur a cappella group -- not exactly U2 and Coldplay -- but that revelation resulted in the performance up top.