Paul Simon to play for Japan’s Kishida, Bidens at White House state dinner

By Thomson Reuters Apr 9, 2024 | 7:16 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Musician Paul Simon will play for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, his wife, Yuko, and President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden at a state dinner on Wednesday, the White House said.

Simon, 82, whose long music career includes the hits “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” and “You Can Call Me Al,” has been celebrated for contributions to the American songbook. Along with singer Art Garfunkel, he popularized folk music hits such as “The Sound of Silence,” “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” and “Mrs. Robinson.”

Simon, one of Dr. Jill Biden’s favorite artists, was chosen as a “special tribute” to Kishida, because he shares her appreciation for Simon’s work, her office said on Tuesday.

Biden highlighted another iconic American musician by giving Kishida a custom-framed lithograph and a two-volume LP set signed by piano man Billy Joel, the White House said. Biden also gave him a “vintage vinyl record collection of great American music artists,” it said.

The menu for Wednesday’s state dinner will feature house-cured salmon with avocados and red grapefruit, dry-aged rib eye steak, and salted caramel pistachio cake with matcha ganache and cherry ice cream.

White House social secretary Carlos Elizondo told reporters Simon would sing selections of his work after the meal.

The Kishidas will travel to North Carolina on Thursday, and on Friday will dine on “whole hog” barbecue with Governor Roy Cooper, listen to bluegrass music and visit a Toyota plant, the governor’s office said.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Heather Timmons and Leslie Adler)