Paul Simon Reacts to Cover Versions of His Classics

Paul Simon's music is so universal, it's been covered by Elvis and Disturbed.

The New Yorker has won 16 Grammys including three for Album of the Year. So it's no wonder so many artists like Bob Dylan, Dawes, Spoon, and Billy Joel want to reimagine his tunes.

Earlier this month the 81-year-old was on the Howard Stern show where they spent two hours talking about his career. Near the end of the conversation, Paul discussed some of the cover versions of his songs and gave his reaction.

Disturbed, "Sound of Silence"

Disturbed has performed this cover 312 times.

Disturbed's version of "Sound of Silence" in 2016 in Dawson Creek, Canada.

"I liked it very much. I thought they did another musical way of approaching it and it was accomplished very well," Simon said.

Stern asked if Simon ever reached out to Disturbed's singer, David Draiman.

"I called him," Simon affirmed, saying Draiman was pleased that Simon liked their grand version. "I don't see why, but I could have had the reaction like, 'what are you doing to my song?' But I didn't feel that way at all."

The Lemonheads - "Mrs. Robinson"

The Lemonheads have performed it 27 times.

"So-so," Simon responded when Stern asked if he liked it.

"I love it," Stern beamed.

"It sounds pretty good now, actually," Simon agreed as the song was played in the studio. "You're right, it sounds good. Yeah it's good."

Elvis Presley - "Bridge Over Troubled Water"

Elvis performed it 194 times.

Elvis in April 1972 covering Simon & Garfunkel at Madison Square Garden

"I don't like Elvis' version of Bridge Over Troubled Water," Stern declared.

"Me neither," Simon said. "And there was nobody - ever - that I liked as much as Elvis Presley from 1955-1957. Nothing ever hit me as strong as that."

Stern played Elvis's version and asked, "too schmaltzy?"

"The problem with this is, if you left Elvis Presley to just sing that song, he would have been great," Simon explained. "Instead, they virtually copied the Simon & Garfunkel arrangement, which is kind of a dearth of imagination," he said.

"I saw him sing it," Simon said. "It was the only time I saw him live. But I didn't like it. I saw him at Madison Square Garden. I was disappointed. What he could have done with it, if they had left him alone..."

Aretha Franklin - "Bridge Over Troubled Water"

Aretha performed it 40 times.

"Aretha took it and brought Black church to it," Simon said, "which it had in it, anyway. But the Simon & Garfunkel version is not that at all."

"I didn't like the Aretha version," Stern said, "and I know that's controversial because I love Aretha Franklin."

"I thought it was great," Simon stated. "The piano--"

"You like it?"

"I love it," Simon said. "The only thing I don't like about it is 'why don't you just, why don't you just...'" he said referring to Franklin jazzing it up.

The Bangles - "A Hazy Shade of Winter"

The Bangles have performed it 134 times.

"It's great," Simon said, "better than us," he said referring to his old partner Art Garfunkel.

"There was a CBS Grammy tribute to my music last year and she sang it."

Here's a bonus cover: Miley doing "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover"

Of all the bands that were discussed, the only one with tour dates in the near future is The Lemonheads who will be playing three nights in a row on the last days of December in Evanston, Illinois.

On Dec 29 they will perform the entirety of It's A Shame About Ray (which was the album that contained their cover of "Mrs. Robinson.") Tickets available on The Lemonheads' website.

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