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Credit: Alberto Cabello / Richard Mushet

Music

The bizarre party Paul Simon had with Elton John and Bob Dylan

@TomTaylorFO

Hollywood parties will always be a force to behold. When famous artists come together, strange things seem to happen. Throwing oranges off of the voice of a generation might be one of the tamer tales of luminaries having a lark about, but it is certainly bizarre, nevertheless.  

For a long time, Elton John seemed to be having one continual party, so charades around Paul Simon’s house probably seemed like a quiet night in to him. As he recalls in his memoir, “Simon and Garfunkel had dinner one night, then played charades,” he comically begins as though the folk duo were a single entity who lived together. It is also interesting to note that they even attempted to play charades at all, given that it is usually the game you turn to when there is nothing left to talk about.

Elton John then continues, “At least, they tried to play charades. They were terrible at it. The best thing I can say about them is that they were better than Bob Dylan.”

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While Dylan might be unrivalled at putting his point across in song, it is easy to imagine that he might not have quite the same performative lust when it comes to parlour games. However, rather than dampening the evening, things took a turn towards the strange.

As Elton John writes: “He couldn’t get the hang of the ‘how many syllables?’ thing at all. He couldn’t do ‘sounds like’ either, come to think of it. One of the best lyricists in the world, the greatest man of letters in the history of rock music, and he can’t seem to tell you whether a word’s got one syllable or two syllables or what it rhymes with!”

With his frustrations growing, the flamboyant ‘I’m Still Standing’ singer drunkenly began to heckle the star with a barrage of Vitamin C. “He was so hopeless, I started throwing oranges at him. Or so I was informed the next morning, by a cackling Tony King.”

It’s not often you’ll wake up to news like that. As Elton John explains in the punchline to his tale. “That’s not really a phone call you want to receive when you’re struggling with a hangover. ‘Morning, darling – do you remember throwing oranges at Bob Dylan last night?’” he laughably concluded. 

Fortunately, Dylan didn’t take the fruit flinging the wrong way and the pair remained friends, even if he has also called Dylan “scruffy” in the past. As the ‘Rocket Man’ said of the folk star’s legacy, “Bob spurred us on. He was a prime example of ‘you don’t need anybody else’. If you write your own songs and can play them, you cut out an awful lot of middlemen.”

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