Paul Simon shares rare health update after suffering near-total hearing loss in one ear

Musician also spoke about how he tried to block Frank Sinatra from recording his classic song, ‘Mrs Robinson’

Roisin O'Connor
Friday 15 March 2024 12:22 GMT
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Paul Simon performing at the legendary Central park concert in 1991

Paul Simon has given an update on his hearing after suffering a near-total loss in his left ear back in 2023.

The “You Can Call Me Al” star, 82, was prevented from touring after the condition emerged while he was working on his 15th solo album, Seven Psalms, with doctors unable to diagnose the cause. By September, he said he was beginning to accept his hearing loss.

The legendary singer-songwriter is now the subject of a new two-part documentary, In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon, from director Alex Gibney.

During a premiere for the event in New York this week, which was moderated by late-night host Stephen Colbert, Simon revealed that his hearing has now come back to “enough of a degree that I’m comfortably singing and playing guitar and playing a few other instruments”.

“I can hear my voice the way I want it in the context of the music. If there’s a drum or an electric guitar, it’s too loud and I can't hear my voice. But when I first lost the hearing, I couldn’t get, it threw me off. Everything was coming from this side,” he said, People reports.

In the same interview, Simon revealed that he once tried to stop legendary crooner Frank Sinatra from covering one of his most famous songs, “Mrs Robinson”.

Simon and Art Garfunkel released the iconic song in 1968, before Sinatra dropped his version a year later. The song is arguably best known for serving as the theme in the classic 1967 film, The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffman.

‘The Graduate’
‘The Graduate’ (Moviestore Collection/REX)

“I met him once. It was very interesting too, because he made a cover record of my song ‘Mrs Robinson’. And he changed the lyric[s],” Simon said.

“They were fantastic, but when I first heard it, it was like, ‘man, ring a ding, ding you Mrs Robinson, Jesus loves you more,’ and this is in the sixties, and I said, 'He can't do that.’”

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“I said, 'I'm stopping the record.' He said, 'You can't stop a Frank record.' I said, 'I am stopping it. Nobody asked me to change and I'm not giving permission. I don't care.'

“And so a guy from Warner Brothers called me up and said, 'Please don't do this. It's my fault I did it. Please don't do this to me.’ So I said, ‘Okay,’” he continued.

Paul Simon suffered hearing loss in one ear back in 2023
Paul Simon suffered hearing loss in one ear back in 2023 (Getty Images)

Simon ultimately “fell in love” with Sinatra’s recording, noting that the music that played after the concert was over was the cover version.

In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon is set to premiere on MGM+ on Sunday 17 March, with the second half arriving on 24 March.

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