February 21, 2014 at 1:00 am

Paul Simon and Sting try each other's songs on tour

Sting, left, and Paul Simon will do 21 dates around the country. (Kevin Mazur / Getty Images)

Pasadena, Calif.

Sting and Paul Simon are rehearsing for their upcoming tour, which stops at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Wednesday, a couple of longtime friends and neighbors preparing to take turns singing some of each other’s biggest hits.

It was Simon’s idea for the tour, hatched when he came downstairs in their New York apartment building to ask if Sting would be interested. Of course, Sting told him, having first heard Simon & Garfunkel when he was a 15-year-old in England.

“He’s the master,” Sting said. “If I ever wanted to emulate a literary and literate songwriter, then Paul Simon would be the person I would go to.”

They started the process of selecting the set list for the tour, which opened Feb. 8 in Houston. Sting said Simon asked him to sing “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and Sting asked if they could include “America.”

“Paul had a long partnership with Art Garfunkel for many, many years, and it’s not my job to impersonate Art,” Sting said. “He has one of the most iconic, beautiful voices in the history of rock ’n’ roll. But my job is to interpret and honor the notes and the lyrics that have been written, and I will be me. But I’m delighted to sing songs from that canon.”

Simon is eager to sing Sting’s songs “Fields of Gold” and “Fragile.”

“I think the gentler side of my repertoire interests him,” Sting told the Television Critics Association while promoting his PBS special, “Sting: The Last Ship,” airing locally Sunday on “Great Performances.” The musical will begin on Broadway Sept. 30 at the Neil Simon Theatre.

Simon and Sting, separated by a 10-year age difference, first sang together at a charity benefit in New York last year. Sting said he was surprised by how well his voice blended with that of the 72-year-old Simon.

“He will pick up something of my energy, and I’ll pick up some of his,” he said. “Again, it’s a learning experience.”

At times, they’ll blend their respective bands, the specifics of which are being worked out.

“It may evolve into a big bash, sort of battle of the bands, if you like,” Sting said. “With musicians of that caliber, when you stick them on the same stage, they all raise their game, and there’s a little bit of competitive spirit, but a great deal of understanding and sensitivity. I think it’s going to be fantastic.”

Paul Simon & Sting on Stage Together

8 p.m. Wednesday

The Palace of Auburn Hills

6 Championship, Auburn Hills

Tickets $54-$273

(248) 377-0100

palacenet.com

'Sting: The Last Ship' on 'Great Performances'

2 p.m. Sunday

WTVS-TV (Channel 56)

Check your cable provider’s listings