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How Paul Simon Ended Up Wearing a Turkey Suit on ‘Saturday Night Live’

If you can’t help hearing the strains of Paul Simon‘s 1975 hit “Still Crazy After All These Years” every time you look at a turkey, this anniversary post is for you.

Yes, this week we’re celebrating the fact that on Nov. 20, 1976, Paul Simon walked out in front of a live studio audience for a Saturday Night Live segment that featured him dressed as a turkey and crooning the title track from his latest album. Of course, he only made it through a few bars of “Still Crazy,” but the image of Simon in that ridiculous getup remains indelible after all these years (Ha! Get it?), partly because it ran so wonderfully counter to his serious persona — something he addressed in the monologue that went along with the skit.

“You know, I said, when the turkey concept was first brought up, I said there’s a very good chance I’m gonna end up looking stupid if I come out wearing it,” Simon told the audience. “I mean, everyone said, ‘Oh, it’s Thanksgiving, go ahead.’

“You know, I felt it was not in any way in keeping with my image, the lyrics, ‘The Boxer,’ any of these songs. They said, ‘Hey, you know, you take yourself soooo seriously. Why don’t you stop taking yourself soooo seriously for a while and loosen up a little bit, and maybe people will laugh. You want to be Mr. Alienation, you can be Mr. Alienation.’ Well, I didn’t want to be Mr. Alienation. I want to be a regular guy, but I feel this has just been a disaster. I’m sorry. I’m just gonna go and change.”

At which point Simon left the stage, only to be stopped by SNL producer Lorne Michaels, who thought the performance was “wonderful” but was willing to let Simon be done with the whole thing and go change – if only Simon could get himself through the door frame in his turkey suit.

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